By Marlee Ginter

SONORA (CBS13) — There is a scramble to get a local couple back to the United States after a horrifying medical emergency left them stranded in South America.

The Tuolumne county couple set out on a cruise but things turned critical in Colombia.

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What started as a dream vacation turned into a nightmare for Margaret and John Egger. The couple set out on a Princess Cruises ship from Florida that was bound for Panama, but after the first stop, John suffered a heart attack.

Their daughter-in-law, Kimberly, traveled to Cartegena, Colombia, where John was rushed unresponsive to a local hospital. He’s now in a coma on life support. Kimberly was grateful Margaret was there with him.

“She’s an amazing woman,” Kimberly said of Margaret. “She’s done an amazing job. There’s been a lot of tears.”

Audie Archer is the general chairman of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse.

“I believe it was very hard and there was nothing anyone could do because everyone was so far away,” Archer said. “So it’s very hard just to imagine.”

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Archer’s organization is one of the multiple community organizations the Eggers are a part of — which is now raising money to help with medical costs, including the $50,000-plus med flight back to the U.S.

“She didn’t have help from anybody for a while and it just broke my heart, and we knew we had to do something,” Karen Marian-Lockhardt said of Margaret.

“If something like this had happened to someone else, they’d be the first ones jumping in, donating, helping,” Nikki Coleman said of the Eggers.

Coleman is the president of the Tuolumne County Women’s Network. Mariano-Lockhardt is the vice president. Margaret reached out to the women’s network where friends wasted no time raising money at Inner Sanctum Cellars in Sonora.

“Before this, I had lost faith in humanity, but what I’ve seen over the last two days is just,” said Becci Burton, scholarship chair with the women’s network.

Massive donations have already reached Margaret in Colombia.

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“Tears instantly, just overwhelming,” she said. “We are so blessed, I mean, we are thousands of miles away and to feel all that energy here.”