Updated April 2, 2020 - 8:42 am
WASHINGTON — The daughter of former Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, along with a Clark County court interpreter and her son, were among several Nevadans who have finally been able to return to the United States from Peru amid a coronavirus lockdown.
Snider, a Las Vegas resident, sought help from Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., to secure the release of his daughter, Cheyenne. Another family sought the help of Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., as lawmakers everywhere scrambled to help repatriate Americans abroad.
Magaly Sofia Toledo-Kelly, 49, a Clark County interpreter, and her son, Jake, 12, a middle school student, were in Peru to visit family. They were at the airport for their return flight when Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra shut down the government and airports due to the coronavirus.
“It sounds like my wife got out in the nick of time,” said Shawn Kelly, 58, a public school teacher and Magaly Toledo-Kelly’s husband, who spoke to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on his way to pick his wife and son up at McCarran International Airport.
Shawn Kelly, a Las Vegas resident, was counting his blessings. He had been sent an email from the U.S. Embassy in Lima, Peru, on Wednesday that said no future commercial aircraft would be leaving that country soon.
After nearly three weeks, Kelly was happy to have them return.
He said the frustration had been constant: “Every day it was something different.”
But he noted that his wife and son were lucky. “A lot of the Americans down there didn’t have the luck of being able to stay with family.”
Helping Americans stuck abroad
Snider, 65, the former metal band frontman, spoke to trade publications about efforts to get his daughter from Peru, where she was on a vacation until the government crackdown. The singer told other publications and broadcasts that he was frustrated with the lack of governmental response. He then contacted Rosen and other Nevada state and federal lawmakers.
Rosen said her office has been working to help dozens of travelers, Nevadans living abroad and their families, who need assistance evacuating back to the United States.
“The rapid spread of COVID-19 stranded many Nevadans outside of the country and far from home during an uncertain and frightening time,” Rosen said.
Titus, who helped Kelly get his family out, was instrumental in contacting the State Department every day, which would then contact the U.S. Embassy in Peru on his behalf.
“We’ve already helped dozens of constituents reunite with their families in Las Vegas, and we’re in the process of assisting many more,” Titus said.
“Any constituent with a family member who is having trouble returning to the United States should call my office,” she said.
So far, about 25,000 Americans have been repatriated from nearly 100 countries, said Ian Brownlee, principal deputy assistant secretary for state for the bureau of consular affairs. Another 9,000 Americans were expected to be brought home with more flights in the coming days, Brownlee said during a news briefing.
In Peru, about 2,800 U.S. citizens have been able to leave on flights from Lima and Cusco, and buses are bringing others to airports from outlying regions of Ica and Trujillo.
Brownlee said the State Department is aware of Americans being placed in quarantine facilities enforced by Peru’s ministry of health. State Department officials are working to ensure U.S. travelers have appropriate food and healthy living conditions.
Kelly said that social media posts from Americans in Peru show that many are being forced to adhere to quarantine conditions at significant cost.
Restaurants and hotels are closed or closing, and the flow of information, even through the embassy, is “clunky.”
“There was no credible information,” Kelly said, until he contacted the congressional office, which began reporting back daily after calls to the government and hearing from Peru. He said he was looking forward to seeing his family soon.
“They have been traveling for days,” Kelly said.