A college student jailed in the Cayman Islands for violating the government's COVID-19 protocol had her sentenced reduced by two months on Tuesday, but she remains "terrified" and is not eating, a family member said.
Skylar Mack, 18, appeared before a panel of judges in the small British territory in the Caribbean on Tuesday asking to be released from jail. But the pre-med student from Georgia only had her sentence reduced from two months from four months.
"Within a second of the verdict, we were all crying and hurt," Mack's grandmother, Jeanne Mack, told Stephanie Gosk on TODAY Wednesday.
Mack will be spending Christmas in a jail cell and will not be back to attend classes at Mercer University when they restart after winter break in January.
"She's really not eating," her grandmother said. "She's scared. She doesn't know what to do, she's talking about dropping out of college. She thinks people over here are going to hate her."
Mack has been locked up since Dec. 15 along with her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, 24, a Cayman Islands resident. They were charged with violating a 14-day COVID-19 isolation period required of all travelers to the island after Mack removed a government monitoring device and went to Ramgeet's Jet Ski competition.
They are the first to be sentenced under harsher penalties for breaking isolation in the Cayman Islands, which has about 64,000 residents. The island has had 311 confirmed cases and two deaths since the pandemic began and has enforced strict penalties to keep those totals low.
Mack and Ramgeet were each initially sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a $2,600 fine after pleading guilty to violating the isolation period. A prosecutor successfully argued that punishment was too lenient.
"I don't sleep at night," Jeanne Mack said. "All I can think of is her laying there in bed crying because I know that's what she's doing."
Mack's family has appealed to President Donald Trump for help and is now dealing with the U.S. State Department.
Jonathon Hughes, the attorney for the couple, told Gosk that they may not have to serve the full two months and could be let out by Jan. 20, which would still be too late for Mack to return for the start of her semester.
"Skylar is not a bad person," her grandmother said. "She made a mistake, she made a poor judgement decision, and she knows that. She is very remorseful. She's terrified."