(WKBN) – A Hermitage native and his new wife are still in recovery after they were burned by an erupting volcano while on their honeymoon in New Zealand.
The family of Matthew and Lauren Urey released a statement Tuesday on their conditions.
“They are progressing as well as could be hoped for given the severity of their injuries, but they both have a tremendously difficult and long road to recovery ahead of them,” read the statement from the Barham and Urey families.
Matt Urey is a Hermitage native and attended Hickory High School, while Lauren Urey is from Richmond, Virginia.
They were visiting White Island two weeks ago on their honeymoon when the volcano erupted, killing 19 people and leaving more than two dozen others with severe burns from the scalding steam.
Meanwhile, authorities on Tuesday called off the search for two bodies they believe were washed out to sea from the island soon after the eruption.
According to the statement released through police in New Zealand, both Matt and Lauren are expected to be out of work for an extended period of time.
The families thanked people for donations to the family — a GoFundMe page has already raised more than $51,000 — and those in New Zealand for caring for Matt and Lauren.
“From the moment we were notified of the eruption, we have received nothing but support from everyone here in New Zealand,” read the statement.
On the GoFundMe page, organizer Aaron McKendry said on Dec. 14 that the couple had already undergone multiple surgeries and had many more to come in a process that would take months.
Many people have questioned why tourists were still allowed on the island after New Zealand’s GeoNet seismic monitoring agency raised the volcano’s alert level on Nov. 18 from 1 to 2 on a scale where 5 represents a major eruption, noting an increase in sulfur dioxide gas, which originates from magma.
New Zealand authorities are investigating the circumstances around the disaster.