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West Africa – Orthodox Brooklyn Man Dies in Sierra Leone After Insurance Company Allegedly Dawdles

August 1,2011


West Africa – A 59 year old Brooklyn man who was in West Africa on business died this past Shabbos following a minor car accident that took place on Thursday deep in the heart of the Kenema District’s mining country located in Sierra Leone.

Avraham Levy of Kensington, who was in the tile and granite business, had been in Africa on business for several weeks and was hospitalized for observation after the accident. He died due to complications from diabetes, after the remote makeshift hospital to which he was taken was unable to provide him with insulin.

Levy’s family found out about the accident when Levy’s rabbi attempted to contact him by phone on Friday. Levy’s phone was answered by someone who told the rabbi that Levy was in the hospital and not doing well.

Mrs. Levy confirmed that she contacted Oxford insurance company to arrange for a Medi-Vac transport to a higher level medical facility, explaining that her husband was a diabetic, had proper coverage and that she had already located a carrier willing to transport her husband. According to Mrs. Levy, Oxford insisted that the transfer had to wait until after the weekend.

Chesed Shel Emes was notified of Levy’s death on Motzei Shabbos and was able to prevent an autopsy and embalmment, both normally done before a body can be flown out of the country.

After learning of Levy’s death on Motzei Shabbos, the family contacted Chesed Shel Emes who activated connections within the Department of State and Dept of Foreign Affairs in order to prevent an autopsy from being performed. The State Department was contacted yet again when complications arose with local officials during the six hour car ride to the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown from the remote area where the hospital was located.

Levy’s body is currently en route to Brussels from Freetown International Airport where a connecting flight to Israel for burial will be arranged.

Zvi Gluck, director of Government Relations for Chesed Shel Emes, credits several people for helping get the body out of Sierra Leone in less than forty eight hours, including Miss Anne Marie of the American Embassy in Sierra Leone, who worked tirelessly with Chesed Shel Emes to expedite matters, Sam Westreich of Belgium, who was in the area and ensured that all the proper documentation was filled out, served as a shomer for the niftar and accompanied the body from the Kenema district to the Freetown airport, ZAKA and Menashe Kirsh of Crown Heights, who having had a similar experience in Sierra Leone, served as both a point of contact and a translator.

“It was literally nissim v’niflaos that we were able to prevent the autopsy and get the body out of there so quickly,” said Gluck in an interview with VIN News.

Passports for the Levy family were arranged by Chesed Shel Emes in order for them to be able to fly to Eretz Yisroel for the burial.