Rico’s TICO BULL – One day after having obtained his driver’s license, the 24-year-old identified by his last name Loria, was involved in a fatal crash early Friday, at the entrance to El Pilar neighborhood, in La Union de Cartago, on the Florencio del Castillo highway.
Loria was driving the SUV that collided with a motorcycle, killing instantly Juan Antonio Rodríguez Mairena.
Though fatal accidents are an almost daily occurrence on Costa Rica’s roads, what makes this noteworthy is that Loria was under the influence of alcohol while behind the wheel of his SUV. Unfortunately, also almost a daily occurrence.
In my opinion, the most dangerous times to be on Costa Rica’s roads are between 2 am (when last drinks are poured) and 6 am when the drunk drivers are either home or at work.
According to traffic official Gustavo Ordoñez, Loria registered a reading of 0.29 on the roadside breathalyzer. The traffic law elevated the traffic mishap to criminal when a novice driver blows more than 0.25.
“The accident occurred at 4:30 am. It was still dark at that time. What the driver of the vehicle says is that the brakes failed him and in order to avoid the collision, apparently, the motorcycle loses control and hits his vehicle, the motorcyclist dies immediately and the breathalyzer test of the driver is positive,” Ordoñez said.
Take a look for yourself. The video is from truck whose dash mounted camera captured the crash.
Yes, the motorcyclist hit the SUV, but only after driver of the SUV traveling at a high speed loses control, skids, does a half spin facing oncoming traffic, getting in the front of the motorcyclist, causing his death.
Given his ‘legal inebriation’, Loria was placed under arrest and it will now be up to the Fiscalia (Public Prosecutor’s Office) to determine his legal situation.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the fatal crash continues.
Noteworthy here also is the inability of the prosecutor in charge to reach the scene of the crash due to the tremendous traffic congestion caused by the same accident.
The Cartago – San Jose section of the Florencio del Castillo is a daily nightmare – morning and afternoon – for commuters.
In Friday’s case, the crash caused even more congestion as traffic officials on site could not clear the road until the Fiscal (prosecutor) reached the scene, which made it impossible from Cartago, requiring a call to the San Jose offices to dispatch a Fiscal.
Thus, it wasn’t until almost 9 am – more than four hours after the fatal crash – that the Fiscal could reach the scene and the road cleared for traffic.
As to Loria, his troubles have just begun. First off, the Fiscalia has him locked up and will be seeking preventive detention (remand) while they continue investigating the case, for which he will most likely be charged with homicide.
But, he shouldn’t worry too much, as the courts are pretty lenient on drunk drivers. For example, the case of Daniel Alberto Mora Monge, the drunk driver who killed four cyclists on the morning of (three died at the scene, the fourth in hospital days later).
The hit and run drunk driver was sentenced to seven years in prison after the family of one of the victims did not settle for payment and decided on a court trial. Yes, in Costa Rica, a money settlement to the victim or their family is way get out jail option.
Again, that tragedy occurred early in the morning, the driver proven to have left a bar, on a night of drinking, before running down the cyclists. His defense lawyer even had the gall to try to blame the cyclists for being out at the hour of the morning, in the dark.
As to the unfortunate motorcyclist Friday morning, not much is known about him. Just another victim of an unfortunate circumstance that grips this country, to which I see no solution in sight until the government decides, takes the bold step, of beefing up a police agency – Policia de Transito – so understaffed and over worked.
Imagine that this police body has only around 1,200 officers working around the clock to cover the entire country. Now, when you take into consideration vacation time, sick days, suspensions, etc, they may be only as many as 900 officers available.
When was the last time you saw a Policia de Transito patrol at night?
My understanding from several of Transito I have gotten to know over the years, at night there is only a skeleton crew to handle emergenices.