Dad of Couple Who Mysteriously Died in Fiji Talks How He'll Tell Grandson

The father of Michelle Paul, the woman that died last month alongside her husband after contracting a mysterious illness in Fiji, is opening up about the unpleasant task of telling the couple’s son about their deaths.

Michelle and her husband, David Paul, went on vacation to Fiji last month but had no idea they wouldn’t return to their two-year-old son Ayden.

Now, Michelle’s father, Marc Calanog, will have to tell the toddler that his parents are no more, but the older man is not looking forward to that moment.

“I don’t even know how to say it to Ayden because [he] is 2 years old,” Marc told PEOPLE. “Once I have it all more clear, I guess I’m going to start talking to a priest and ask him for help to see how I can tell this to Ayden.”

AN UNPLEASANT TASK

Marc explained that, despite the tragedy, he and his wife are keeping their emotions in check for the sake of little Ayden. The senior couple is currently taking care of their grandson and are struggling to keep it together so as not to affect him negatively.

“If we get depressed, then my grandson will be the one to suffer. Right now, we are taking care of my grandson. We want to be strong because instead of being a grandparent, we might end up being a parent and that is a big shift from what we’ve been doing for the last few years.”

“Overall, we will recover,” Marc added. “There’s no question because our focus now is on what to do with Ayden. We cannot be depressed and [not] have a clear mind because we have to handle this responsibility.”

THE TRAGEDY

Besides little Ayden, the Pauls were also raising David’s three children from a previous relationship, according to the outlet.

Michelle and David, who Marc reveals had just bought a house in Fort Worth, Texas, arrived in Fiji on May 22 for an “amazing vacation,” reports CBS News.

Days later, the couple contracted a strange illness, one which, according to ABC News, “caused them to experience vomiting, diarrhea, extreme weakness and eventually led to their demise.”

Marc told the station that his daughter informed him via WhatsApp about contracting the violent illness and that her last text was about experiencing numbness in her hands.

Michelle, a former student-athlete, and David, an Air Force veteran, were “very physically fit,” Michelle’s sister-in-law Tracey Calanog told KVUE. Sadly, both would die within days of each other after going to a hospital in the South Pacific island.

Marc told ABC News that his daughter died first on May 25 and that his son-in-law died shortly after while the hospital staff was planning to transfer him to an Australian hospital.

THE AFTERMATH

Local authorities in Fiji, as well as the US Embassy in the country,  have confirmed the deaths of Michelle and David, and are reportedly investigating the circumstances that led to the tragedy.

Marc has called on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct an independent investigation of the deaths to determine if the couple died from an infectious disease.

As of Wednesday, Marc told PEOPLE that the autopsy report for Michelle and David – whose bodies remain in Fiji until it is determined that they didn’t die from an infectious disease – had been completed but he was yet to receive either it or their death certificates.

“I want to make sure that American tourists understand if there’s a risk – and maybe there’s not,” he said to the outlet. “But I would be saddened if someone repeated their experience because I did not do my job as a citizen and try to find out what are the issues.”

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