A 35-year-old Venezuelan athlete participating this Sunday morning in the San Jose Half Marathon was killed by a drunk driver who disrespected the traffic police checkpoint in Zapote.
The victim was identified as David Yanez Pacheco, who died at the Calderon Guardia Hospital moments after his arrival at the medical center.
The incident occurred on the south side of the Parque Nicaragua, in front of the Zapote Church, at 6:40 am, when Yanez was struck by a 26-year-old driver, identified by his last name Blandon, bypassing the row of vehicles stopped by the Policia de Transito to allow the runners to cross the intersection.
An onsite breathalyzer test determined that Blandon was driving under the influence of alcohol, and was immediately arrested for homicide.
According to Mario Reyes Carmona, organizer of the race, “it is a sad day for all athletes, despite having all the security measures, an irresponsible driver marred the competition”.
The race began early at the Universidad Latina in San Pedro, weaving the 21 kilometers through downtown San Jose, finishing in Paseo Colon.
Yanez was one of the 1,300 competitors in the race endorsed by the Costa Rican Athletics Federation, the Costa Rican Sport and Recreation Institute and the Ministry of Health (Federación Costarricense de Atletismo, the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación and the Ministerio de Salud).
The “media maratón San José 2017” had all the safety regulations and permits in order and insurance policies for the registered racers.
A total of 19 traffic police officials were assigned to the regulate traffic. In addition, the organizers had 90 people along the route to guide the racers and four advanced medical support units and a security chief every five kilometers.
“We have all the security measures that are always taken, there is a protocol that we follow strictly. There are things that we can not control,” says a press release from the organization.
Despite the incident, the race continued. The men’s category was won by Angelo Oliva Bonilla, with a time of 1:10:28; first place in the female category went to Jenny Mendez Suanca with a time of 1:18:05.
Laurens Molina was the winner of the wheelchair category with a time of 1:11:51.