“My knees tremble, my heart barely beats and my hands and feet are cold. But my son is alive,” were words are of Belen Valladares, the mother of one of the tourists who survived a rafting accident in Quepos on Saturday.
Four American tourists and a guide died after the rafts were overturned in the Naranjo River, in the town of Naranjito, in Quepos.
Thirteen others survived the water accident, 10 were tourists and 3 tour guides.
Valladares says that, according to her son, water was rushing down from the mountains while they were on the tour. She still did not have all the details, but she knew that her son was alive, with only a few scrapes on his back.
“All the rafts overturned, one or two, all. She caught them by surprise,” the woman posted in a Facebook comment. “It leads me to believe that the tour should not have occurred because the conditions were clearly not safe.”
According to the report by authorities, all the rafts capsized in the rough water and everyone was dumped into the water and that the weather is to blame.
The Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) detailed that the visitors who perished in the accident were between 25 and 35 years old and had arrived in Costa Rica on October 18 as part of a group — alumni of Christopher Columbus High School — visiting the country to celebrate the bachelor party of one of the survivors.
The tourists had been renting a house in Playa Hermosa, north of Playa Jaco.
“I condemn Costa Rican authorities for not implementing sufficient security measures. I want to dissuade all tourists from visiting places that care more about their profitability than life and safety,” Valladares warned.
More than half of the tourists that visit Costa Rica are involved in some adventure activity according to a study by the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism (ICT). Rafting in river rapids accounts for 8.4% of the total adventures, according to interviews with visitors traveling by air.
In the Saturday accident, the fallen tourists were identified as Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andrés Denis, all between 25 and 35 years old. All four were from the Four tourists from Miami-Dade County area in Florida. Kevin Thompson Reid, 45, was the Costa Rican guide.
The U.S. State Department reacted in a tweet, saying, “The State Department has no higher priority than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas. Working with local authorities, we stand ready to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens in the area.”
A GoFundMe has been created for the victims. You can visit the page here.