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Ocala woman returns home after being stuck in Peru for nearly four months due to coronavirus

Airport shut down to due virus, private charter flights cost about $2,500

OCALA, Fla. – Cecilia Tapia is finally back with her family in Ocala after spending nearly four months in Peru. She flew there in February to be with her family after the loss of her sister-in-law and wasn't able to get back because her flight was canceled due to the coronavirus.

She was the primary caretaker of her adult daughter with special needs who had to be put into an assisted living facility while she was gone.

"I couldn't explain to her why I couldn't get her mom back and I told her I would do everything I can to get her back so we can all be a family again," said Tapia's husband, Joseph Castro.

In early May, her husband Joseph Castro, reached out to News 6 to try to get some help getting Tapia back to Florida. They said they made several attempts to contact the U.S. Embassy in Peru with no luck.

The problem was only a few private charter flights were scheduled to fly to Florida, charging nearly $2,500.

“It was outrageous ... I didn’t have that. I didn’t know what to do,” said Castro.

He said the family spent thousands to keep Tapia in a hotel and pay for food.

After the family’s story aired on News 6 a family-friend created a GoFundMe account. Within days, the generosity of friends, family and News 6 viewers raised $3,000.

“It was simply amazing ... the second day within four hours, it was there,” said Castro.

"It was a wonderful feeling, good people with good hearts," said Tapia.

Castro wrote a letter to thank everyone involved in bringing his family back together.

The letter Joseph Castro wrote thanking everyone involved in bringing his family back together.
The letter Joseph Castro wrote thanking everyone involved in bringing his family back together. (WKMG 2020)

"This is what America is about, we work and we take care of everybody. I'm very grateful," said Castro.

Tapia said she will quarantine for two weeks and is looking forward to seeing her daughter.


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