Daughter of reverend killed in LI crash misses funeral over denied visa

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The daughter of a beloved reverend who was killed in a deadly wreck on the Southern State Parkway is unable to attend her own father's funeral.

Last Friday, a driver allegedly under the influence of drugs rear-ended the vehicle of the Rev. Chacko T. Mammen, sending it into trees off the parkway. The 69-year-old was pronounced dead at a hospital.

MORE: Police: Driver high on drugs kills reverend in Southern State crash

Scores of mourners gathered Friday to pay their respects to the reverend, but missing among them was his daughter, Smitha Mammen. She was denied a temporary visa to enter the U.S from her native India.

Mammen spoke to News 12 via Skype about not being able to attend her father's funeral. She says she last saw her father two years ago. Her siblings and mother are able to attend services.

"It's a big loss for me," Mammen says.

In a letter, immigration officials denied her request for a visa, saying they did not believe she would return to India. Mammen says the consulate official made the decision after interviewing her for only five minutes and viewing her father's death certificate and newspaper clippings about the crash.

State Sen. Kevin Thomas tried to assist Mammen with her visa application. He says officials denied the request despite the fact that both of Mammen's two children and husband would remain in India while she traveled to Long Island for the funeral.

Thomas says new immigration rules created by the Trump administration are to blame for the denial, adding that the situation compounds the grief for Mammen.

Mammen and Thomas say they hope policy changes will be made to prevent her situation from happening to anyone else.

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