Family crowdfunds for Gaithersburg couple caught in New Zealand volcanic eruption

Rick and Ivy Reed are a couple from Gaithersburg, Maryland, who were caught in the Dec. 9 eruption of a volcano on White Island, New Zealand. (Courtesy Barry Kohn)

A Montgomery County couple are suffering from third- and fourth-degree burns after they were caught in a Dec. 9 volcanic eruption in New Zealand, according to relatives. Their family is now crowdfunding to raise money to cover their medical bills and lost income.

Rick Reed and Ivy Kohn Reed, both of Gaithersburg, Maryland, were on vacation visiting Reed’s son Mike in Australia before taking a cruise to New Zealand. That’s how they ended up at White Island, New Zealand, on the day of a serious volcanic eruption that left 18 dead and more than two dozen with severe burns.

“Their tour group had already visited the crater, so they were walking away,” said Barry Kohn, brother of Ivy Kohn Reed. “Which is in essence what probably saved their lives — that they were a little further away.”

Kohn told WTOP that Rick’s son Mike called his father’s cellphone when he saw news of the eruption; it was picked up by a nurse at a hospital. Mike then reached out to Kohn and his brother via Facebook Messenger, who set about determining Ivy’s condition and piecing together what happened.

“I have spoken with my sister twice,” Kohn told WTOP. “I’ve not spoken with Rick [but] we know his condition is worse than hers.”

Kohn said the couple has third-degree burns “pretty much anywhere there was full skin exposure,” but that Reed additionally has some fourth-degree burns.

“He’s been burned on around 40% of his body because he was wearing short sleeves and shorts,” Kohn said.

He said Reed has “had multiple surgeries already,” which gives the family confidence his condition is stable because he was healthy enough to undergo the stress of an operation.

The family has started a GoFundMe page to cover the couple’s impending medical bills, airfare back to the United States and other associated costs. 

“There are immediate medical bills to be concerned about,” Kohn said. ”But also we don’t understand yet what this means for them going forward.

“We still don’t know how long they’re going to have to stay in New Zealand — we really don’t have a good handle on what kind of costs or what level of cost we’re looking at.”

The GoFundMe page has raised nearly $20,000 of a posted $35,000 goal at time of writing.

“If nothing else, because so many friends and family have reached out to us asking what they could do to potentially help, we thought that maybe this would be a good way to help out Ivy and Rick,” Kohn said. ”Not just in the immediate [future], but maybe down the road [as well].”

Vivian Medithi

Vivian Medithi is digital writer/editor. Vivian has been with WTOP since 2019.

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