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NEW ORLEANS (WDSU) – A New Orleans family is searching for answers after their loved one died under mysterious circumstances in Mexico over the weekend.
Cortez Hall was a social studies teacher at KIPP Morial School in New Orleans.
“My son was a joyous child,” said Ceola Hall, Hall’s mother. “He loved me, he loved his family. He loved to make everyone laugh.”
The students and teachers are heartbroken by the loss of their beloved teacher.
Ceola said he was very close with her and his sisters. They say they last spoke to him on Saturday after he traveled to Mexico City with two friends.
On Monday, Ceola received a call from the U.S. Embassy that all three were found dead inside an Airbnb.
His two friends were identified by their families as Jordan Marshall, 28, and Kandace Florence, 28, of Virginia.
According to Ceola, the U.S. Embassy did not give her information on how he died or what happened.
“It’s been so hard,” said Ceola. “We tried calling back over there for the funeral homes. Because of the language barrier and stuff you cannot get anything through or really understand.”
Ceola said she doesn’t want anyone to go through a similar situation.
“I would hate to see any parents go through what I went through with my son, I didn't expect to hear this about my son. No one expects that,” said Ceola.
According to local station WAVY, Florence was speaking with her boyfriend on the phone on the evening of October 30 when she suddenly felt ill and told him that something was not right. The call disconnected and he was unable to reach her when he called back. The boyfriend later contacted Airbnb requesting a safety check on the group.
WDSU reached out to the U.S. Embassy about Hall’s death and received this response:
“We can confirm the death of three U.S. citizens in Mexico. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.”
Deanna Reddick, KIPP Morial Middle School’s Principal, released the following statement:
“We are deeply saddened by the recent loss of our beloved 7th-grade history teacher, Courtez Hall. This was Mr. Hall’s first year teaching at KIPP Morial Middle School, and he quickly made a meaningful impact on our students. He was a bright light that helped our students shine in and out of the classroom. Our school community is heartbroken, and his family has our deepest sympathy, prayers, and condolences. School counselors are providing support to students and staff as they process this sad news, and we will cope with this grief together as a school family.”
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