Two families are in disbelief and mourning after a newlywed couple from New York drowned while on their honeymoon off the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos.
The tragedy in paradise took place just four days after Mohammad Malik and Noor Shah were married in a traditional Pakistani wedding at an East Meadow wedding hall on Long Island — taking the family members from the heights of happiness to the depths of sorrow in a matter of weeks. Remnants of a "just married" sign painted on the couple's SUV was still visible as the vehicle sat in the driveway of a Garden City Park home Monday afternoon.
What happened to the couple remains unclear, but it appears they had been walking on sandbars off the shore, when the pair was suddenly overwhelmed by water.
"Obviously they were out there alone so nobody knows exactly what caused the issue. Your guess is as good as mine," said Salman Malik, the groom's brother. "I felt numb, like it does not feel real. We are still in that elated state of happiness from the wedding ... utter disbelief in the sense that, how could this happen?"
His other brother, Ahmad, called the wedding was one of the happiest day of his life — "followed very closely by the worst," just a few days later.
"It doesn't feel as if any of this is real yet, so I imagine the hard part starts now since we just buried them yesterday," Ahmad Malik said. He and other family members traveled to the islands to retrieve the bodies.
"They were both incredible, and everything I wanted to be in life," said Ahmad.
Malik and Shah were the children of immigrants, already making their mark in their world: he was a corporate lawyer in the city, while she was a surgeon in Manhattan. The pair's dream was to someday open a hospital in Pakistan.
"Their energy as individuals was magnetic, but together it was incredible," said Ahmad Malik. "Everybody wanted to be their friend. Everybody wanted to be around them."
On Monday, the family gathered together to grieve and look at photos from the October wedding — a very special day that was a precursor to an unthinkable tragedy.
"They died together, that's the bottom line. There were the world to each other. One couldn't live without the other," Salman said. "They were happiest with each other and spared no moment to enjoy life together."
Malik's family said they hope to start a foundation in the couple's names.