Alieu Dausy Wurie and Isatu Tejan Wurie: Maryland Couple Dies in Extreme Heat During Hajj Pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia as Family Struggles to Locate Body

The Wuries spent $23,000 on the trip and booked through a Maryland-registered company, which Saida believes did not adequately care for her parents.

A Maryland couple died from extreme heat while fulfilling their lifelong dream of traveling for the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. Now, their heartbroken daughter is frantically searching for their bodies and seeking help from authorities to find them.

Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Isatu Tejan Wurie, 65, were last in contact on June 15, when they informed their daughter that they had been waiting for hours in the intense heat for transportation to Mount Arafat. The Bowie couple had always dreamed of completing the Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that attracts millions each year and is obligatory for all Muslims who have the means to undertake it.

Killed in Extreme Heat

Alieu Dausy Wurie and Isatu Tejan Wurie
Alieu Dausy Wurie and Isatu Tejan Wurie Facebook

"They saved their entire lives to embark on this journey and they didn't receive the proper preparation, the proper documents, it was just a nightmare overall experience," their daughter Saida Wurie told CNN.

After the last contact with her parents on that scorching 109-degree Fahrenheit day, Saida received a call from a member of their travel group, who informed her that her parents had passed away during the journey.

Their cause of death was recorded as natural causes, which include heat stroke. Now, she is trying to locate their bodies after being told by the Consulate General's office that the couple has already been laid to rest.

"We did ask the Saudi government to hold the bodies in order for us to travel to Saudi Arabia to at least give them the proper burial with [their] children being present and to be able to identify the bodies," Saida said. "Unfortunately, they have already been buried."

According to AccuWeather, the temperature in Mecca reached a high of 109 degrees Fahrenheit on June 15 and fluctuated between 109 and 113 degrees throughout the week.

"All we know is that it was of natural causes and someone from the U.S. embassy did advise that natural causes could have been due to a heat stroke, which based on the temperature, people were saying it was over 110 degrees," she said.

"There are millions of people, they have to walk long hours, so it was more than likely a heat stroke for both of my parents."

Distressing Time for Family

Alieu Dausy Wurie and Isatu Tejan Wurie
Alieu Dausy Wurie and Isatu Tejan Wurie X

Saida mentioned that her parents had long dreamed of making the pilgrimage, and her mother had recently retired from her position as head nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Prince George's County.

The Wuries spent $23,000 on the trip and booked through a Maryland-registered company, which Saida believes did not adequately care for her parents. "Honestly, I don't think they were properly prepared for this trip. There was a group of them, maybe up to 100 people that were traveling under a certain agency," Saida said.

The couple had been waiting for transportation to arrive when they opted to walk instead. According to a member of their group, Alieu Dausy had stopped for a break, after which the couple was never seen again.

"We received a phone call from someone within their group who advised us they had been missing for a few days, that they were the only two hadn't returned back to their hotel after the hajj was completed," their daughter said.

"I tried tracking them a few times on the phone, I believe their phones may have died, we tried reaching out to the US embassy, ultimately the same person who had advised us that they were missing advised that he went around to a bunch of hospitals and that they have passed away."

"I was able to confirm that with the consulate generals office in Saudi Arabia that they had passed away," she said.

The couple, longtime residents of Bowie originally from Sierra Leone, had recently reconciled their relationship after separating in the early 2010s, as reported by The Baltimore Sun.

The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, obligatory for all Muslims who are able to undertake it at least once. It is one of the largest religious gatherings globally, with more than 1.83 million Muslims participating in 2024.

Historically, deaths are not uncommon during the hajj, a pilgrimage that at times has drawn over 2 million people to Saudi Arabia for a five-day journey.