Four Florida friends were killed on Saturday along with a tour guide when the raft they were riding on capsized in Costa Rica’s Naranjo River, leaving at least a dozen others clinging to floats to survive, reports say.
The four U.S. citizens — Andres Denis, Jorge Caso, Ernesto Sierra and Sergio Lorenzo — traveled from Miami to the Central American country for a bachelor party and were in one of three rafts that capsized around 3 p.m. local time near Liverpool de Quepos, NBC News reported.
“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,” a friend, Anthony Castro, wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for the victims’ families.
There were five tour guides with the group, according to NBC 6. The victims were swept away by the waters and the others managed to hold on to the boats before being rescued by responders.
“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 friends drowned in those waters.”
Castro wrote that all 14 guests on the rafts were friends in the country for the bachelor party. He said that they had been on the water for only around five minutes when the vessels capsized. The large group of friends had arrived in Costa Rica on Thursday and were renting a house in Jacó, according to NBC 6.
“What was meant to be a weekend to remember for 14 friends turned into a living nightmare,” Castro wrote.
Along with the four friends, Costa Rican tour guide Kevin Thompson Reid, 45, also died in the accident, NBC 6 reported, citing the Costa Rican government.
Rescue teams arrived to find three rafts and one kayak flipped over, Luis Guzman, spokesman for Costa Rica’s Red Cross, told NBC News.
We are saddened by news of rafting accident in #CostaRica. We can confirm 4 U.S. citizens died as a result of the accident. We extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, and extend our gratitude to Government of Costa Rica for their support in this tragedy.— Heather Nauert (@statedeptspox) October 21, 2018
The tourists were whitewater rafting in an “area full of nature,” Guzman reportedly said. Authorities said the river was swollen by rain and Castro wrote on the fundraising page that the group was initially told to wait before heading out into the water, due to wind and rain. They waited for “less than an hour,” Castro claimed.
Chris Comas, who survived the incident, told NBC that the group of friends had known each other since high school. Comas said that one of the victims, Lorenzo, was the groom’s brother.
“Luis [Beltran], the man we hoped to celebrate all weekend, lost a brother and we all lost four great friends during this vacation which went horribly wrong,” Castro wrote.