Four American tourists and a local guide died in Costa Rica Saturday afternoon after turbulent conditions in the Naranjo River caused their rafts to capsize.
The tragedy occurred in Liverpool de Quepos, near Costa Rica’s west coast, around 30 miles south of San Jose, where local authorities said rainfall had bloated the river and called for a flood alert. Five guides leading a 14-person bachelor party embarked on a rafting tour around 3pm local time Saturday, shortly after poor weather conditions from earlier in the day had improved.
“When we first arrived, it was windy and raining, and the professional tour guides advised that we wait a bit before going out on the water,” said Anthony Castro, one of the surviving members of the expedition. “Less than an hour later, we got the okay to head out, and the 14 of us separated onto three different rafts. Within five minutes of being out on the river, all three rafts capsized, and everyone ended up in the water.”
Most of the victims were able to cling on to the rafts or to rocks and barriers in the water, but five of the men were swept away by the current. “What was meant to be a weekend to remember for 14 friends turned into a living nightmare,” a survivor wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to fund funeral expenses for the men who drowned.
The bachelor party was in honor of Luis Beltran from Miami, who lost his brother, Sergio Lorenzo, as well as three friends – Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso and Andres Denis – in the accident. Beltran was also swept into the water, but managed to stay afloat to survive.
Kevin Thompson Reid, the Costa Rican guide who died in the incident, was one of his tour company’s best guides, according to his employer.
The US State Department confirmed the deaths, saying, “We are saddened by news of rafting accident in Costa Rica. We can confirm 4 U.S. citizens died as a result of the accident. We extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, and extend our gratitude to Government of Costa Rica for their support in this tragedy.”
Featured photo courtesy of Anthony Castro.