CAMBODIA – The mother of James Hart, 29, who died suddenly while backpacking through South-East Asia told Mail Online today that although his family will never know what caused his death, they can take comfort in the incredible life he had and how many people’s lives he touched.
Government Officials told his family he died of cardiac arrest. However, his family says no autopsy could be done, and their son had to be cremated before the family could get any real answers.
Jimmy’s family is grieving their loss, remembering a son and brother who lived life to the fullest and died while doing what he loved.
The family explains their grief is complicated by questions surrounding his death. Questions they say they just have to live with.
“We just don’t know what happened. We probably never will. It’s one of those things we have to live with,” father James Hart said.
He was an experienced traveler. He even kept a blog and friends say he meticulously planned out each trip.
“They have no refrigeration, so no possibility of having him put in refrigeration, so we could bring him home to see,” James explained.
Jimmy’s dad, James Hart Sr., says Cambodian officials can only say he died by cardiac arrest, which the family says is a vague diagnosis that leaves the family with more questions than answers.
According to the Hart family, they were forced to cremate Jimmy’s remains after they say Cambodian doctors failed to embalm him. The US Embassy is arranging to bring them home this week.
In the meantime, the family says they are choosing to focus on the full life their son led and the legacy he’s left behind.
“I lost my best friend. I lost my brother. He was the best person in the world, he had no enemies. He wanted more out of life. He thought everyone should want more out of life,” brother Donnie Hart said.
“Everyone says in some way he changed their life about wanting to travel, and it’s been unbelievable,” mother Donna Hart said.
Donna Hart says the family has received messages from people as far away as Spain and the Philippines, all of which Jimmy touched during his travels.
His father says he was an inspiration to many, and he hopes that continues in death.
“His free spirit. Not to let things stop you from doing what you want to do with your life. You don’t need as he said to me to sit behind a desk work a 9 to 5 job. Follow your dream. Be mad to live that was his motto. And that’s what people should take away from this,” James Hart shared.
Jimmy’s friend Derek Miller was traveling by his side when he passed away. His father Ray Miller has helped set up a memorial fund to help the family with expenses.
“The money and the outpouring of support has been beyond imagination,” Ray Miller said.
Derek Miller’s father says his son plans to complete the journey the two friends began together.
A fitting tribute to a friend for whom life was the journey, not the destination.
If you would like to donate to the fund, please visit www.gofundme.com/jameshart.