For the first time the parents and parents-in-law of Andrew Speaker, the man with tuberculosis who is isolated at a Denver hotel, spoke out about their role and the difficulties the family had faced during the incident.
Cheryl and Ted Speaker, Andrew Speaker's parents, and Robert and Betsy Cooksey, the parents of Andrew's new wife, Sarah Cooksey, sat down exclusively with ABC's "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer to explain their view.
Some people have questioned how family members, knowing Andrew had a contagious disease, could allow him to board trans-Atlantic flights. Others have raised questions about Robert Cooksey's connection to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and wonder whether it influenced any decisions. Robert Cooksey is a tuberculosis researcher.
"I think the best way to explain it for myself and my family, my friends: 'We're in hell, and we want to get out of hell,'" said Ted Speaker, Andrew's father.
Cheryl Speaker said she wanted the world to know she and her family did not believe their acts were reckless.
"We are not people of reckless behavior," she said.
Everyone went to Greece for the Speaker-Cooksey wedding without any worries about any contagious situations, said Betsy Cooksey, Andrew's mother-in-law. .
"And do you think that this man who is an expert in TB, do you think that this man, if he had thought that there was any danger whatsoever to his only child and his only grandchild, that he would've allowed this to happen?" Cheryl Speaker asked about Robert Cooksey, Sarah's father.
"We were told that these -- induced sputum [PH] tests that he had had were … were negative to that point. And so, by the guidelines, he was not considered infectious," Robert Cooksey said.
Questions exist about a meeting with local health officials before the trip to Greece. Officials say they told Andrew Speaker he would put others at risk by traveling abroad for the wedding and then returning home on a commercial flight.
"We asked him [the official] repeatedly during that meeting, 'Is he contagious?' All times they said, 'No, you're not contagious,'" Ted Speaker said.
Other family members agreed that no ambiguity had existed about whether Andrew Speaker could pass the illness along to others.
"Then he said of course, 'I prefer you not to travel. I prefer you just say here,'" Ted Speaker said. He said the official never gave a reason why.
"Well, are, are you just saying this to cover yourself?" Ted Speaker said he asked the official. "And he said, 'Yes,'" Ted Speaker said.
Ted Speaker says he has an audiotape of the conversation with health officials in which they clearly say that his son was not contagious. He plans to release the tape at some point and says he believes it will confirm the family's side of the story.
"They said on tape it was not contagious," Ted Speaker said.
Ted Speaker said he taped conversations as part of his natural routine, partly because of hearing loss he sustained during his time as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. Previously, Andrew Speaker indicated that the conversation was taped as a protective measure and that it served as a record.
Ted Speaker said he never thought about telling them the conversation was being taped. But, he said in hindsight that he would have alerted them.