Four Americans on a bachelor party trip to Costa Rica and a local guide died in a white water rafting accident that survivors described as “a living nightmare.”
The Costa Rican Judicial Investigation Organization said that three recreational rafts flipped on the Naranjo River in Quepos on Saturday afternoon, ultimately leaving five dead. Government officials identified the American victims as Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andres Denis, all between 25 and 35 years of age. Officials identified the Costa Rican victim, who was one of the group’s guides, as Kevin Thompson Reid, 45.
“What was meant to be a weekend to remember for 14 friends turned into a living nightmare,” survivor Anthony Castro wrote on a GoFundMe page set up to help the families of the victims pay for funeral costs.
The trip, he said, was a weekend trip to celebrate groom-to-be Luis Beltran. “We’ve all been friends for many years and we knew we wanted to do something special for our friend before his wedding. We planned a few activities, one of them being a white water rafting tour on the Saturday of our trip.”
“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,” Castro wrote. After waiting “less than an hour,” the 14 tourists and five guides split into three different rafts and headed out.
“Within five minutes of being out on the river, all three rafts capsized, and everyone ended up in the water,” Castro wrote. “Everyone struggled to get back on the rafts, with some efforts being successful, but ultimately the rafts continued to capsize due to the immense current. Within minutes, all of us were careening down the river with life jackets and helmets just trying to stabilize and find something to hold on to.”
“Throughout the dangerous ride down the river, all of us struggled to stay above water, swallowing lots of it on the way down as our bodies ricocheted against the rocks in the water while struggling to survive. Most of us were ultimately able to grab hold of rocks or barriers in or around the water and await the rescue teams to get to us. Unfortunately, not all of us were so lucky. Four of our dear friends drowned in those waters.”
Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada issued a statement about the accident on his official Twitter account Saturday night.
“In the name of the Government and people of Costa Rica, I would like to express our deepest sorrow for the accident this afternoon at the Naranjo River in Quepos. I would like to thank all the emergency and security teams that worked diligently, and I have instructed authorities to help the victims’ families.”
US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert thanked the Costa Rican government for their assistance in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.
"We are saddened by news of rafting accident in #CostaRica. We can confirm 4 US 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."
Per the GoFundMe page, one of the victims was the groom-to-be’s brother.