Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I have received inquiries as to whether or not the captain of the EcoQuest used poor judgment in taking out his boat when there were high winds in the Pacific. The cause for this accident and resulting injuries and death may be more complicated than that. The safety training of the captain and crew should be taken into consideration along with whether or not the captain was under pressure by the tour operators to take the boat out in windy or unsafe conditions.
At $125 a pop, the operators stood to lose over $10,000 should the captain have stayed at port. The specifications of this boat should be reviewed as to its ability to withstand the force of the forecast winds the day it went out. Finally, the manufacture and design need to be looked at. Initial reports indicate this boat was built in Costa Rica in 2007 in Puntarenas.
I trust that the Costa Rican authorities will conduct a thorough and diligent investigation. I also hope that they make their final report available to the passengers on this boat and families of loved ones who lost their lives in this tragic accident.
I saw that the front people for the tour operators stated that there was sufficient insurance and everybody will be compensated for their loss. Unfortunately, under Costa Rican law, there is no similar tort system to that of the United States whereupon punitive damages are awarded for negligent behavior. Damage awards in Costa Rica are generally limited to reimbursement for medical expenses and lost income. Emotional distress and future emotional issues associated with someone’s fear of travel by sea will most likely not be considered and severely limit any damages. Damages for loss of companionship due to loss of life by a loved one is negligible.
However, this could all change should it be determined that there is sufficient cause for the jurisdiction in this case to reside in a common law country such as the United States or Canada. A thorough investigation should be conducted as to the management and ownership of this tour company, which primarily services foreign tourists.
The booking Web site for these tours, www.tortugaislandcruise.com is registered to Jaco VIP, Calle Pastor Diaz, Playa Jacó, Puntarenas.
My initial research regarding Capt. Tenorio of this boat indicates that he was charged with pre-inebriated driving in both 2007 (along with dangerous driving), and 2008 and in 2009 he was charged with driving without a license. This history makes one wonder as to whether or not the operators of this tour company conducted any type of due diligence prior to hiring this man? Also, which licensing agency gave him permission to operate a public transport tour boat with this type of driving record?
When tourists purchase tickets for transport on a tour boat, they should be provided with the highest level of safety and security possible. If it is determined that the managers of this vessel put their own profit motive ahead of the passengers’ safety, then they should be held strictly accountable for their actions for the loss of life and injuries to loved ones, whether it be in Costa Rica or the United States.
Derish Associates, Inc.
Chico, California and San José