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U.S. tourist victim of hit and run involving Presidency Ministry car

February 23, 2017

A walk through downtown San José nearly turned deadly for one U.S. tourist when a car registered to Costa Rica’s Presidency Ministry allegedly ran into her before fleeing the scene.

An article from the Spanish-language news site CR Hoy identified the victim of Saturday’s accident as 74-year-old Shirley Folger, from Arizona.

Folger and witnesses told CR Hoy that the license plate number of the car that hit her was 777669, which corresponds to a 2009 Nissan X-Trail registered to the Presidency Ministry, according to a registry database search conducted by The Tico Times.

A Presidency Ministry spokeswoman confirmed Thursday to The Tico Times that the accident did take place. She identified the driver and government employee who fled the scene as Maykel Marchena Loría.

The Tico Times reached out to Ms. Folger by calling several different phone numbers found through basic record searches, but has so far been unable to speak with her.

Folger told CR Hoy that she was walking on a sidewalk along Paseo Colón, the busy main street that connects the center of San José to La Sabana Park, when a car driving at high speed turned the corner and hit her.

“I was stepping up onto the curb when the car came up on the corner very, very fast,” Folger told the Spanish-language site. “Then it hit me on my right-hand side and threw me across the sidewalk and into the wall.

“At that point, there was a business across the road and the gentleman there came out and yelled for the car to stop,” Folger continued. “It slowed down… The person in the car knew that they had hit me because it slowed down. There was also a taxi at the light and he also yelled for the car to stop.”

Folger told CR Hoy that she was scheduled to take a flight back to the United States that same day, so she decided to delay a visit to the hospital until she returned home. According to pictures published by the news site, Folger suffered significant scratches and bruises on her arms and legs.

She added in her conversation with the reporter that she was very grateful to the store owner and other locals who helped her. She said she loves Costa Rica and its people overall, but that she was disappointed with the actions of the people in the car.

The Presidency Ministry spokeswoman said no formal complaint has been filed against Marchena. She said that the ministry would pass on necessary details to the Public Security Ministry, which will be in charge of a subsequent investigation into the incident.

This latest news broke on a rough day for the president’s office, which is currently at the center of a scandal involving the salaries of some of the administration’s high-level ministerial staff. A press release from the Presidency Ministry also announced Thursday that Mariano Figueres, the director of the Department of Intelligence and Security, had suffered a heart attack while on an official visit to Germany. Figueres is in stable condition as he recovers in a hospital in Munich, the ministry release said.

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