Published Thursday, August 15, 2019




In November 2018, one of the survivors Luis Beltran and friends gave an interview to Good Morning America TV show, describing the death of his four friends.  / ABC news courtesy photo.

Prosecutor files charges against three linked to death of four U.S. citizens during rafting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Prosecutor's office of Quepos and Parrita filed an accusation against three men, two of them surnamed Contreras-Martínez, and another surnamed Pessoa-Calvo. They are suspected of having caused a shipwreck, during a rafting tour where four North American tourists died.

According to the investigation, the events occurred on October 20th, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., when the suspects would have conducted an excursion with the group of U.S. tourists in the rapids of the Naranjo River* in Quepos, Puntarenas.

The Prosecutor's office contends that the suspects were aware of the weather conditions making rafting on the Naranjo River risky.

"Apparently, five minutes after the navigation began, the rafts in which the victims traveled overturned and people were dragged by the current," the Prosecutor's office said in its statement. "According to the accusation, four tourists died as a result of suffocation asphyxiation."

The four U.S. citizens killed in the rafting accident in Quepos were identified as Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andrés Dennis. The other victim was the Costa Rican tour guide, identified as Kevin Thompson.

Apparently, Contreras-Martínez was on a raft, and he had to rescue people if any eventuality occurred. However, the Prosecutor's office obtained evidence that indicated that during the accident, two other tourists asked for help, but Contreras-Martínez refused to rescue them.

It is believed the survivors had to swim to the shore to save their lives.

The two men surnamed Contreras-Martínez, both worked as tour guides.

The other suspect, "Pessoa-Calvo is a representative of the expedition company named Kepoa, based in Manuel Antonio," said Luis Diego Hernández Araya, deputy prosecutor of Puntarenas.

Evidence collected led to an investigation against the three suspects who are allegedly responsible for committing the crime of shipwreck.

One of the subjects, surnamed Contreras-Martínez, is also charged with the crime of omission of help.

According to the Criminal Code: Article 144, Omission of Aid is "Finding a child under ten years of age, or an injured person or a person threatened with any danger, lost or helpless, and failing to provide necessary assistance according to the circumstances, as long as it can be done without personal risk. "

Also, the code qualifies in article 258 the penalty for causing a shipwreck. "It will be repressed with imprisonment of two to six years for someone who, knowingly, executes any act that endangers the safety of a ship, floating construction, or air transport. If the event produces a shipwreck, stranding, or air disaster, the penalty shall be six to twelve years in prison. If the accident causes injury to any person, the penalty will be six to fifteen years in prison, and if it causes death, it will be in prison for eight to eighteen years. "

The Prosecutor is in the process of communicating with the families of the victims about this accusation.

These relatives have three business days to determine whether or not they constitute complainants, and, if so, they must file a private accusation.

Families must also inform if they intend to open a civil action, for which they can claim compensation for damages suffered. If that is the case, they have ten days to formulate and present the documents corresponding to the claim.

Once the Prosecutor's office receives the documents from the victims' families, they will present the accusation and open a trial request before the Criminal Court.

In November 2018, one of the survivors Luis Beltran and friends gave an interview to Good Morning America TV show, describing the death of his four friends.

The interview can be seen at the ABC news channel link here*.

Should the Prosecutor's office speed up the pre-trial process due to the severity of the accusations in the case? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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