Hermitage mother headed to see son who fell victim to New Zealand volcanic eruption


Jan Urey is hoping to reach New Zealand before Matt Urey's second surgery to clean his burns

HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – A couple injured during a volcanic eruption in New Zealand has a link to the Valley, one of the victims grew up in Hermitage.

Matt Urey and his new wife Lauren were honeymooning on a private island when the volcano erupted. Thankfully, they made it out.

On Tuesday, Matt’s mother, Jan Urey, caught a plane to New Zealand to visit them.

Jan was anxious before heading out for her long trip.

“I will be wanting to hug him but I know I can’t do that. So just be able to see him and know he’s OK,” Jan said.

Matt and Lauren have burns from being near the volcanic eruption.

They were on their honeymoon, taking an excursion from their cruise to see the White Island volcano.

“My son had dreamt of going to Sydney, Australia, New Zealand since he was a child. This was his dream,” Jan said.

Jan had talked to the newlyweds when they were on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Then she missed a call, but Matt left a voicemail.

“Hi Mom, it’s me. I just want to let you know this isn’t a joke. The volcano actually erupted while we were on the island and I got pretty badly burned,” Matt said in the voicemail.

For 12 hours, Jan couldn’t get any more information. She knew Matt was off the island from the rest of his voicemail, but he was still listed as missing.

Lauren was taken to a different hospital than Matt.

Then Jan finally learned more — they were wearing breathing masks and there’s no damage to their lungs. They’re both going to survive.

“Neither one of them is in any danger that way. It’s going to be a long haul, plastic surgeons involved,” Jan said.

Matt and Lauren got married on Oct. 18.

Matt is a Hermitage native and went to Hickory High School.

Jan’s close friend, Joan Mooney, went to the wedding and just knows the couple is going to make it.

“They’re strong. They’re going to get through it. They’re great kids. They’re going to be fine,” Mooney said.

Jan is hoping to reach New Zealand before Matt’s second surgery. He had one procedure to clean his burns, and doctors are planning another.

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