“We came to live a dream and we are living a nightmare from which we are never going to wake up”, described Miguel Ángel Escribano, the husband of Arancha Gutiérrez López – the Spanish woman murdered in Tortuguero last weekend – what his family is living after their dream holiday in Costa Rica ended in tragedy.

The case of Gutiérrez and Maria Trinidad Matus Tenorio, the 25-year-old Mexican woman killed on Sunday morning at Carmen Beach, in Santa Teresa de Cóbano, join other tragedies suffered by foreign tourists in the country since March 2017.

According to a count made by La Nación, 16 foreigners have died tragically, while enjoying their vacations on Costa Rican soil.

The last two cases occurred last weekend and provoked a series of government actions, given the concern about the impact that the events in the sector could have. Among these measures is the announcement made by the President Carlos Alvarado, to transfer US$1 million a year for the safety of visitors.

According to figures from the Tourism Board, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT), 2.9 million tourists entered the country in 2017, but the country’s goal is to reach 3.9 arrivals by 2021.

Canadian photographer murdered

Bruce McCallum died in March 2017 in Puerto Viejo, Limón, after being stabbed with the intention of stealing his camera.

McCallum, a Canadian, was in Costa Rica enjoying, along with other tourists, a sabbatical year that would take him to different parts of the world. He was a photographer and a professor of mathematics in Toronto.

On the day of the murder, the 51-year-old man was about to capture images of the sunrise in Puerto Viejo.

Plane tragedy

One of the most tragic cases was the crash of the Nature Air plane of December 31, 2017, in Nandayure, Guanacaste.

In the crash, 10 American tourists and two Ticos pilots died. The aircraft left the Juan Santamaría airport for Punta Islita to pick up the tourists on a charter flight. However, due to the winds, pilot Juan Manuel Retana decided to land in Tambor, waiting for the gusts to subside.

Once informed of an improvement in conditions, he resumed the flight plan to Islita. There he picked up the passengers and took off at 12:10 p.m.

A few minutes later the demise aircraft and its passengers and crew was reported.

Infograph from La Nacion

Child dies in waterfall

In April, an eight-year-old Swiss boy died after disappearing in the Ecological Reserve La Catarata Río Fortuna, in San Carlos. The boy was on vacation with his parents and a brother.

The parents told the authorities that the child took off his shirt and then they did not see him anymore, so they reported his disappearance. The boy was found drowned hours later with a strong blow to the head.
Death in cabin

In December of 2017, an elderly Swiss couple died when a tree fell on the cabin were they slept, in Puerto Viejo, Talamanca.

The foreigners were staying at a hotel on Chiquita Beach and the tragedy was caused by the strong winds that were sweeping much of the country at that time.

The deceased were Marie Louise Balmere and Rodolf Balmere, 70 years old. It was their first visit to the country.

Arancha Gutiérrez and María Trinidad Mathus

Arancha Gutiérrez and María Trinidad Mathus were murdered less than 24 hours apart, the first in Tortuguero (Limon) and the second in Santa Teresa de Cóbano (Puntarenas). The two women, Gutiérrez of Spanish nationality and Matus, Mexican, were on vacation in the country and died while enjoying the Costa Rican beaches.

Gutiérrez’s body was found on Saturday shortly after 8 a. m. in Tortuguero. The remains of the 30-year-old Spaniard lay on the beach in a 200-meter sandy strip that borders the Caribbean Sea on one side and the freshwater channels on the other.

A 33-year-old Nicaraguan man whom Gutiérrez met a day earlier, is the main suspect in the sexually motivated murder.

Despite the first suspicions, the man was released, without precautionary measures, but handed over to immigration police for being illegal in the country. “The detention is extended for 30 days as he is in the process of being deported, while the Judicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) continues with the corresponding investigations since he is suspected of the murder of the Spanish tourist”, reported Migración in a press release.

The murder of the María Trinidad Mathus occurred on Sunday at 3 a. m. when she was with an English woman friend in Playa Carmen, in Santa Teresa de Cóbano, Puntarenas. The women were intercepted by two assailants and the 25-year- old Mathus was asphyxiated when one of the criminals submerged her in the sea.

According to the data collected, one of the subjects abused the Englishwoman by touching her private parts; she struggled with him, broke free and ran to ask for help.

The two men arrested, the first one surnamed Esquivel, who was captured, beaten and taken by residents to the local police station at 6:30 a. m. and the second surnamed Mendoza, apprehended in the center of Cóbano at 9:30 a. m.

Esquivel will spend three months of pretrial detention, while Mendoza was released, “due to the lack of sufficient evidence to prove his participation in the events,” the court said.


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