A Toronto mother who was being held in Cuba is free today — and is one big step closer to getting home in time for her son's funeral.
Justine Davis and her three-year-old son, Cameron, were in Cayo Largo during the holidays. They were hit by a truck while riding a scooter.
Cameron was killed. Under Cuban law, Davis wasn't allowed to leave the country until the investigation was complete, though Cameron's body was sent home.
As the weeks dragged on, it looked as if Davis wouldn't be free in time to attend the funeral, which is this Saturday.
Loved ones — frustrated by the lack of progress through official channels — organized an online campaign, putting pressure on Ottawa and Cuba.
"When we got to week six and had no answer we felt really helpless and lost; it's uncharted territory," longtime friend Amber Hussey told CBC News. "So we tried a different approach."
An online petition aimed at Yves Gagnon, Canada's ambassador to Cuba, had accumulated more than 36,000 signatures by Thursday afternoon. The "Bring Justine Davis Home" page on Facebook has more than 6,500 "likes."
According to a ministry spokesman, Minister of State Lynne Yelich "personally appealed" to Cuban officials for help.
Yelich said today via Twitter that Davis has been released.
Pleased to relay that Ms. Davis is free to leave #Cuba. We appreciate Cuba’s efforts to resolve this situation 2/2— Lynne Yelich (@Lynne_Yelich) February 6, 2014
Davis remains in hospital, however. She has undergone five surgeries for injuries sustained in the crash that killed Cameron. Hussey hopes to bring her home soon, but by Thursday afternoon no travel plans had been confirmed. It is also not known if Davis will be mobile enough to attend.
"I don't know physically where she's at," said Hussey. "I don't know if she'll be capable of being mobile but we'll offer whatever support she needs."
Bringing Davis home is "bittersweet" she added.
"It's happy to have her coming home. We wish it was hand-in-hand with Cameron, obviously," she said. "But we also know she's got a huge, huge grieving process ahead of her and a physical healing process with all the injuries she's sustained. But it's best to get that process started at home with friends and family."