Maryland couple among those who died on pilgrimage to Mecca during extreme heat

FOX 5 learned over the weekend, a Bowie, Maryland couple who left earlier this month to embark on an Islamic pilgrimage died due to the extreme heat, according to the couple’s daughter. 

Now Saida Wurie says she and her brothers are working on traveling to Saudi Arabia to try and locate where her parents are buried. 

"They were just very loved in their community. Everyone loved them. Everyone respected them. My mom was such a loving person – nice person. She was always there for everyone," said Saida Wurie, "I just want everyone to remember the great people that they were, and I hope my brothers and I can just embody them in the least bit moving forward." 

Wurie told FOX 5 her father, 71-year-old Alieu Wurie and mother, 65-year-old Isatu Wurie had planned all their lives to make the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca and paid $23,000 for a trip that was supposed to have all accommodations taken care of. However, Wurie says she quickly learned of issues, texting back-and-forth with her parents. 

"From the time they got to the airport, the travel, the agency that they went with kind of gave them the run-arounds. There weren’t proper arrangements for them. They didn’t have proper credentials, proper transportation, means of transportation, food – something as simple as food, they got food maybe the first few days they were there and then they were left to fend for themselves," said Wurie. 

Image 1 of 3

Maryland couple, 71-year-old Alieu Wurie and 65-year-old Isatu Wurie, among those who died on pilgrimage to Mecca during extreme heat 

The couple then went missing. Wurie shared communication she finally received from U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah dated June 20, 2024. The letter said both parents passed away of natural causes in Mecca on June 15, 2024. The communication also confirmed both parents were buried in an unknown location. 

When asked of the couple and a third American from the DC region, FOX 5 received a statement from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on Sunday, saying:

"We can confirm the deaths of multiple U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia.  We offer our sincerest condolences to the families on their loss. 

We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.   

When a U.S. citizen dies in a foreign country, local authorities are responsible for determining the cause of  death and issuing a  death certificate. 

Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have no further comment at this time."

Wurie says she was told by Saudi authorities her parents suffered a heat stroke in over 110-degree temperatures. Saudi officials say over 1,300 people have died so far making the religious pilgrimage to Mecca’s holy sites in the desert kingdom. 

Temperatures reportedly surpassed 120 degrees in recent days. 

Wurie tells FOX 5 she is not advocating against people going on the pilgrimage, as it is very important to their faith. She does urge people to be cautious of the tour companies one may book with.

Prince George’s County States Attorney and Maryland Candidate for Senator, Angela Alsobrooks is among those offering condolences. She posted a photo of the couple on "X" over the weekend: 

"It is with heavy hearts that my team and I received some devastating news today. Two beloved members of #TeamAlsobrooks, Alhaji Alieu Dausy and Haja Isatu Wurie, passed away during a pilgrimage to Mecca due to the severe heat.

Haja Isatu Wurie was an incredibly active member of our community. She was involved in several community organizations, making transformational impacts that were felt both locally and globally.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with their families during this difficult time. Their loss is profound, and they will be deeply missed."