‘Disgusting’ moment husband had to identify wife's body
THE DEVASTATED husband of Sydney bride Kelly Clarke who died on her honeymoon in Fiji of severe bilateral pneumonia has told of the harrowing moment he identified her body covered in a sheet as she lay in a hospital shipping container shared by four dead people.
Speaking haltingly, tearful Chase Clarke, 28, a carpenter, told the Daily Telegraph: "It was disgusting, they put her body in a refrigerated shipping container and I pulled the sheet off her head and saw her lying there with other bodies on shelves.
"That's not something I ever envisaged doing, that image is now in my mind.
"It was disgusting, hospitals there are not quite third world but conditions are basic.
"It's a different culture, I feel sorry for the Fijians. Nothing I can say will ever bring back Kelly.
"I blame myself, the guilt is heavy, no one else, had we not gone to Fiji on our honeymoon, she might still be alive today, I will always wonder."
Mr Clarke and Kelly, 24, a pre-operative children's nurse at Sydney's The Children's Hospital at Westmead, were in Sigatoka for a friend's wedding and their honeymoon when she contracted the fungal infection affecting both lungs on Wednesday and was pronounced dead at midnight on Friday.
She was rushed to Lautoka Hospital, north of Nadi, where she was told she had contracted typhoid but blood tests ruled that out.
She was placed into an induced coma due to organ failure and septicaemia and went into cardiac arrest five times in an hour.
Initial reports confirm the nurse died of the infection but her husband said there were four additional "minor" causes highlighted which he did not want to elaborate on.
Although she had been diagnosed with Lupus earlier this year, the chronic auto immune disease was not cited as a cause of death.
Her body was driven from Lautoka Hospital and put on a Fijian Airways flight at Nandi yesterday at 6.30pm and landed at Sydney Airport at 10.30pm last night.
Mr Clarke, from Willoughby, in Sydney's Lower North Shore, flew home separately in small private jet and arrived at 1am today.
"I don't know what to say, I'm still in shock, I had to dress her body in her own clothes, there was no mortician there, it's not something I want to talk about.
"At the airport they put her body in a body bag and boxed her up.
"I'm just glad we got her home and that we're all back. I never thought I'd be planning her funeral seven months after getting married."
Mr Clarke described the agonising last phone call he shared with her before she died.
"I spoke to her over the phone at the hospital the next morning, she was scared and said she thought she was going to die.
"I told her 'I love you, I'm going to get you out of there, be strong, I'm coming straight away'
"Everything's a blur, what can I say, life is life."
Referring to matching finger tattoos the couple shared to ink their wedding date, and his wife's wedding rings on his little finger, he added: "No one will ever take Kelly's place, I love you and I miss you.
"This ring should not be on my hand, it should be in hers."
Mrs Clarke's father, businessman Ian Shaw, described his daughter as "an angel."
"We as a family are devastated. We have lost a very precious person; from the start of her career to her married life she did everything right," he said.
"She has been taken from us too soon but will forever be in our hearts."