Religious Family Lost at Sea Is Back in Arizona

Gastonguays face sizable debt after returning home

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2013 2:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – A family that fled the US in search of religious freedom is back home in Arizona instead, facing nearly $20,000 in debt. The Gastonguay family sailed off for the island nation of Kiribati, hoping to avoid what they said was government interference in religion—but storms damaged their boat and they had to be rescued. So they're in Arizona again, owing the State Department $10,000 for flying them home from Cuba, the AP reports.

And they owe another $9,963 to the IRS in back taxes, reports the Arizona Republic. So, why did they flee for Kiribati again? "They say it's the least developed island so I figured undeveloped, less corruption," said Sean Gastonguay, a 30-year-old dad in the five-member clan. Although their boat took on water and the deck separated from the hull—and the vessel ultimately sank—Gastonguay said he believes his family was never in serious danger.

Hannah Gastonguay, holding her baby Rahab, is followed by her husband Sean and the couple's 3-year-old daughter Ardith, as they disembark in the port city of San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.
Hannah Gastonguay, holding her baby Rahab, is followed by her husband Sean and the couple's 3-year-old daughter Ardith, as they disembark in the port city of San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/Las Ultimas Noticias)
Sean Gastonguay holds the hand of his 3-year-old daughter Ardith as they arrive in the port city of San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.
Sean Gastonguay holds the hand of his 3-year-old daughter Ardith as they arrive in the port city of San Antonio, Chile, Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.   (AP Photo/Las Ultimas Noticias)
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