Mother looking for answers after daughter dies on vacation in Puerto Rico

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 12:06 PM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) - A Henrico mother is still looking for answers after her daughter went on vacation to Puerto Rico in February but never returned.

Oneisha Simone Shearin, 30, was pronounced dead inside her hotel bathroom in San Juan on the morning of Feb. 25.

“I fell to my knees. This is the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Maggie Watkins, Shearin’s mom.

What was supposed to be a long weekend trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday turned into a nightmare for those who loved Shearin.

“It was devastating because I went there with somebody, and I came back by myself alone with her belongings,” said Monica Harris, Shearin’s girlfriend.

Harris said she and Shearin flew into Puerto Rico from North Carolina on Feb. 23.

The next day, the two went out to brunch and the beach.

They later went to their hotel bar to celebrate with friends for a few hours with a few drinks before they made it back to their hotel room that night.

Harris said they both went to sleep, but something was wrong when they woke up in the morning.

“At 6:30 a.m., when her alarm went off, she was snoring, so I knew she was alive, so I dosed off back on the sofa, and all I hear her do is make a noise,” Harris said. “I open my eyes. She’s not at the end of the sofa. I look at my phone. It’s 6:45 a.m., so I go to the bathroom, and she’s on the toilet.”

Harris said Shearin wasn’t throwing up but was continuing to make a noise with her mouth.

“I checked her pulse. It was low, and it wasn’t until Oneisha’s eyes like rolled, and I was like she’s scaring me, so I called 911,” Harris said.

Harris called Shearin’s mom to let her know what was happening and to see if she had any allergies.

Watkins told Harris no and later hung up.

“Then, about 30 minutes (later), she called back and said, ‘She’s gone. She’s dead,’” Watkins said.

Shearin’s mom said she couldn’t believe her daughter was gone, and the news hit even harder when she received another phone call from investigators.

“‘We want to ask you if you would like to donate her organs,’ and I just lost it, I lost it again,” Watkins said.

Almost two weeks since her daughter’s death, Watkins said she just wants to know how her daughter died.

She said she’s had to push back Shearin’s funeral date because her body is still not yet back in Virginia.

Watkins said she would not receive an autopsy report until her daughter’s body is back home.

“They won’t tell me,” Watkins said.

Shearin’s nickname was Cookie, and her mother said everyone called her by it because of how sweet she was.

“She was sweet, she liked art, and she liked helping people,” Watkins said.

Now, as she goes through her daughter’s apartment, looking at still unfinished masterpieces, she wishes more could have been done to help her daughter.

“Hold your loved ones every moment, every chance you can,” Watkins said. “Hold them like there is not going to be a tomorrow.”

Watkins said she was told her daughter’s body might leave Puerto Rico on Friday, but she said it has still not been confirmed.