August 07, 2009

After Tragic Jet Ski Accident, Gillibrand, Addabbo Help Reunite Queens Family with Relatives Abroad for Funeral Tomorrow

Lawmakers Fast Tracked Visa Process Allowing Guyanese Sisters to Attend Funeral for Brother and His 5 Year-Old Son

New York, NY - After a recent jet ski accident that led to the tragic death of a Queens father and son, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and State Senator Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) helped expedite the visa process allowing close relatives abroad to arrive in New York in time for the funeral. The sisters of the deceased father will reunite with their Queens family early tomorrow morning - hours before the somber ceremony.

Senator Gillibrand said, "During these difficult moments, it's important for families to gather with their loved ones. I am relieved that Lilouttie and Bhagmattie are able to join their family and friends here at home as they grieve from the loss of their brother and nephew. Our deepest condolences go out to the Gopaul family. They are in our prayers."

State Senator Addabbo said, "In addressing this unfortunate family issue, I was grateful to successfully work with Sen. Gillibrand's office to assist our constituent through their difficult time."

Lilouttie Gopaul, one of the two sisters traveling from Guyana to New York, said, "The entire Gopaul family thanks Senator Gillibrand and State Senator Addabbo. It's been more than a decade since I've visited my family and it means so much that I will be present for the funeral of my brother and nephew. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for making the impossible possible."

Last Saturday, Queens resident Roopnarine Gopaul, 42, and his 5 year-old son Christopher Gopaul, died after losing control of a jet ski and colliding into a dock in Lawrence, Long Island.

Shortly after the accident, two of Mr. Gopaul's sisters, Lilouttie and Bhagmattie Gopaul, unsuccessfully tried to secure an interview with the U.S. Embassy in Guyana in time for tomorrow's funeral to be held in Jamaica, Queens. The interview process is a required step in order to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. Without an expedited interview, the Guyanese sisters would have missed the important ceremony.

Mr. Gopaul's third sister, Sandra Singh of Richmond Hill, Queens, reached out to State Senator Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) for help earlier this week who then worked with Sen. Gillibrand's office to intervene. The Senator's office immediately urged the U.S. Embassy in Georgetown, Guyana to fast track the interview process. The Embassy agreed to an appointment with the sisters this morning and approved their emergency visas.

Mr. Gopaul, who immigrated to the United States two decades ago, worked as a truck-driver and was an active member of his community.