Five people, including four Americans, died in a whitewater rafting accident in Costa Rica, authorities said.
The bodies of Ernesto Sierra, Jorge Caso, Sergio Lorenzo, and Andres Denis were found Saturday evening, along with that of Kevin Thompson Reid, 45, a Costa Rican guide. The Americans were aged 25 to 35.
The men were on a rafting tour that included 14 Americans on three rafts, all of which capsized Saturday afternoon. The remaining tourists and guides survived.
The group of 14 had traveled from Miami and arrived in Costa Rica on Oct. 18. The friends were celebrating a bachelor party for Lorenzo’s brother, Luis Beltran. Beltran survived the accident.
New video obtained on Monday, taken just moments before the adventure turned deadly, showed the group loading up on inflatable rafts. The video also showed the popular Naranjo River raging after days of heavy rain.
Authorities in Costa Rica said that the river was swollen and that there was an alert warning of possible flooding.
In the statement, survivors and family said the men had been friends for years and had wanted to do something special before Beltran’s wedding day.
“Everyone struggled to get back on the rafts, with some efforts being successful, but ultimately the rafts continued to capsize due to the immense current. Within minutes, all of us were careening down the river with life jackets and helmets just trying to stabilize and find something to hold on to,” the statement said.
“Throughout the dangerous ride down the river, all of us struggled to stay above water, swallowing lots of it on the way down as our bodies ricocheted against the rocks in the water while struggling to survive. Most of us were ultimately able to grab hold of rocks or barriers in or around the water and await the rescue teams to get to us. Unfortunately, not all of us were so lucky. Four of our dear friends drowned in those waters,” the statement said.
Sierra, Caso, Lorenzo, Denis, and Reid disappeared into the rapids and were carried downstream, authorities said.
“The family is completely devastated. He was the best blessing our family received on a Christmas morning. He has overcome so many obstacles in his life and we were completely proud. He had just graduated college and was studying for the LSATS,” Denis’ family said in a statement.
Authorities searched for hours by air and by boat, before eventually recovering all five bodies before nightfall.
The case is being investigated, Marco Monge, a press officer for Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Organization, confirmed the News.
An official at the Costa Rican Tourism Institute said the rafting company, Quepoa Expeditions, is under investigation and its offices have been raided.
The official said on Monday that a yellow advisory had been out for the river Saturday because of the flooding and that no other companies were on the river because of the conditions.