US couple’s death in Fiji : Mystery deaths bring families closer

David and Michelle with their son, 2-year-old Ayden. Picture: SUPPLIED

IN the dark for more than a month now, the strain and agony of not knowing the circumstances that led to David and Michelle Paul’s death has drawn their families closer together.

One of Michelle’s two brothers has quit his job in Ohio, US and relocated this weekend to Nevada to be near his parents and brother.

David’s sister and two of his young children were also on their way to his parent’s home in West Virginia for the weekend.

The meetings, a first since the tragic deaths that still has investigators baffled.

Life was good for the Calanog family until a little more than a month ago.

And if you’re a parent or have a family as tight-knit as the Calanogs — or the Pauls — then it won’t be hard to understand why they are stricken to the heart, crushed that two of their precious loved ones are cold in death, thousands of miles from home.

Double deaths had come to the families during the last week of May, and one month later, the ordeal of David and Michelle Paul’s last days has not come to light.

The couple met in Hawaii where they also got married in 2017.

Their son Ayden was born soon after, and the newlyweds were just beginning to enjoy life.

Hard on the family

Michelle’s father, Marc Calanog, says distance, and lack of information was painfully agonising for the family.

His eldest son, John, quit his job and was driving from Columbus, Ohio, to Nevada last Thursday “He is relocating to be near me in Henderson.

“He quit his job, searched and found a job, and bought a house just walking distance from me.

“He is a tax lawyer and his wife is also a tax lawyer.

“Life was good until Michelle’s passing, my sons are affected. They were close. He wants to be near Ayden because he will look after Ayden when we go on.”

Calanog family background

Michelle was well travelled because of her engineer father’s work.

“I worked for ExxonMobil so we lived in different places plus on my annual vacation we travelled to different parts of the world.

“We lived in Japan for almost 10 years, 2 years in Singapore. My kids have been to Australia, Europe and Asia.

“We love travelling. My wife and I travel or cruise at least once a year, or sometimes twice a year for the last 10 years. ”

Swim champs

The Calanogs travelled extensively as a family to Hawaii and Hong Kong for swimming competitions because Michelle and older brother, Jason, swam their entire lives.

Jason is presently a men’s swim coach in Texas.

“They were both world-class athletes, breaking tonnes of records on their paths, and both collegiate swimmers,” Jason’s wife, Tracey, shared.

Michelle loved to swim and surf.

“She swam with the William and Mary College team for four years,” her father said, adding that his youngest child and only daughter was the swim captain at her high school in Northern Virginia.

Life after college

After graduating from college with a degree in Environmental Studies, Michelle worked part time and then enrolled at the American University for a Master’s Degree in International Relations.

Mr Calanog said halfway through her studies she decided to go to Hawaii to study at the University of Hawaii towards a Master’s Degree in Hotel Management.

“She completed her academic courses but got a job at the Marriott.

“She was happy with her work so completing the thesis was not a priority.”

Travel to Fiji

Michelle and David met and lived in Hawaii before moving to Fort Worth, Texas.

David’s mother, Marsha Cutlip Paul, said he lived in Hawaii for seven years.

Both the Pauls and the Calanogs say they knew very little about Fiji, and only started reading up on the country after the couple’s bizarre and tragic deaths which was days apart from each other.

“Michelle was working with Marriott so I am sure she found a good deal,” Mr Calanog said.

“Michelle sent me few photos enjoying Fiji and I told her Boracay Beach (in the Philippines) was far much better.

“She responded, ‘when are you taking us’.

According to Tracey, the couple travelled a lot and had always wanted to travel to Fiji. David told his mother after he arrived that Fiji was ‘nice and calm’.

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