Three children drowned in a boating accident off the coast near Quepos Tuesday morning after the boat they traveled in with their families capsized from a strong rip current, according to a police report.
The incident involved two boats and, in all, nine persons were plunged into the water. They were five adults and four children. Neither boat carried life vests.
Guardacostas officers rescued the survivors and recovered the bodies of the dead children. Eight people were on a single vessel, and the captain of that boat was taken into police custody.
Officials from the security ministry said that the incident occurred in a particularly treacherous stretch of coastline along Isla Damas, a small peninsula that forms the river mouth of the Río Cotos. The peninsula’s base starts at the outer limits of Puerto Quepos and stretches about five kilometers northwest.
Ministry officials also pointed out that the accident occurred three years to the day after two Guardacostas officers drowned in a similar incident on that same stretch of coastline.
According to the police report, eight people were on a single ferry, owned and piloted by a man with the name of Jimmy Pérez Garita. His passengers included three women and four children, all of whom are Nicaraguan citizens living in San Carlos, Alajuela.
At around 6:30 a.m., the boat hit a strong rip current and capsized, casting all occupants into the water. The boat was not equipped with life vests and none of the passengers had one.
Another man with his own boat, Dani Duarte Peraza, saw the event and attempted to rescue those in the water until his vessel also capsized and he was thrown overboard himself, the ministry said.
The coast guard was able to rescue all five adults, but only managed to pull one of the three children from the water alive.
That one child was Keori Duarte Jiménez, the 1-year-old daughter of Arelis Jiménez, 30, who is now in a hospital in Quepos. However, she lost her five-year-old brother, Carlos.
Mother Ana Raquel Jiménez Murillo lost both her 4-year-old daughter, Silvia, and her 3-year-old son, Dilan, said police.
A ministry spokesperson said that the two families are not related to one another. The other passenger was Maikelin Duarte Sandoval.
According to the report, the passengers of the ferry planned to take a public bus back home to San Carlos that day.
After rescuing the surviving passengers and recovering the bodies, Guardacostas officers took Pérez into custody. A ministry spokesperson confirmed that it is illegal to not carry life vests in a boat, especially when it is a commercial ferry.