A Costa Rican court this week acquitted tour guides involved in a 2018 rafting accident that killed five people, including four U.S. tourists.
Two brothers and the owner of the rafting company Quepoa Expeditions SA had been charged with homicide, among other crimes, but were absolved by a unanimous decision from the Quepos Criminal Court.
The rafting accident occurred in October 2018, during Costa Rica’s rainy season, on the Naranjo River. The U.S. tourists were visiting the country as part of a bachelor party.
“Fourteen tourists and three guides on board three rafts, and a kayaker, were on the Naranjito river in Quepos, Puntarenas when the accident occurred,” Red Cross spokesperson Alexander Morales said at the time.
Survivors of the accident told ABC News that they had not been warned of the dangerous rafting conditions and criticized Costa Rica’s safety standards for adventure tourism.
But the judges this week cited in dubio pro reo — in case of doubt, to side in favor of the accused — among the reasons to acquit.
At the time of the accident, Costa Rica’s President Carlos Alvarado expressed his “dismay” at the events and said in a statement that he had instructed authorities to provide all necessary support to the victims’ families.
Rafting and other adventure tourism activities are hugely popular with tourists in Costa Rica. However, waterways often flood during the rainy season.
The featured photo shows Quepos from the air: Mangroves, town, marina, Punta Quepos and in the distance Manuel Antonio.