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BVI’s Skeleton Crew Coroner Won’t Release Body of Dead Doctor Until After Holidays

ROAD TOWN, Tortola – A Florida family dealing with the sudden loss of their father has hit a wall trying to bring his body home for burial over the holidays.

Dr. Joseph Horgan, 65, a renowned cardiologist with the Broward County health system died on December 20th in the British Virgin Islands.

Horgan had gone to check on repairs to his catamaran and his body was found in the waters off Tortola.

“He was the kind of father people said you are lucky he is the man raising you,” said his son Plantation Veterinarian Dr. Jason Horgan.

Horgan says British authorities believe his father’s death was an accident.

“They are wondering if he slipped and hit his head and fell into the water. It was windy,” he says.

It is a devastating loss for Dr. Horgan’s four adult children, who are all in the medical field.

Dr. Horgan was larger than life, able to balance the demands of a successful cardiology practice with raising four children.

He was an involved father who is also being remembered as a kind, compassionate doctor who always had time for his patients.

But now grief has given way to profound frustration for the Horgan family as they try to retrieve his body.

Because his death happened over the Christmas holiday there was limited staff in the British Virgin Islands to deal with his autopsy.

After a delay and dealings with the U.S. embassy in the British Virgin Islands, the autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

Horgan’s wife has traveled to the islands for the autopsy, but now there are further delays expected with necessary government paperwork and the New Year’s holiday approaching.

Dr. Jason Horgan says his father may not be able to be returned until January 8th.

“It’s hard. Like any family all we want is closure” he says.

The family is grateful for all the help received so far but is hoping someone can intervene on their behalf to bring Dr. Horgan’s body back to Florida for burial soon.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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