In the wake of reports regarding illicit alcohol being served at luxury resorts in Mexico, yet another tourist stepped forward to share his story. Rick Autrey, of Arlington Texas, said drinking tainted alcohol in Mexico landed him in the hospital with $57,000 in medical bills.
Autrey said he’d been recovering for three months, unable to work after the hellish experience at an all-inclusive resort.
“We landed, and literally I had been down there for less than four hours and something happened,” Autrey told WFAA-TV. “It’s a very dangerous place.”
Autrey and a friend went to Mexico in May for vacation. Upon arrival, Autrey said he drank some rum and cokes but spaced them out over several hours. At some point, he was found floating in the hotel pool.
“They threw me up on the swim up bar and started CPR,” Autrey told WFAA.
He later woke up in a Cancun hospital with his wife by his side, having flown down from the United States. The friend he was vacationing with was made to pay $10,000 up front in order to get Autrey treated at the hospital, he said. In addition to the lump sum up front, the hospital demanded cash or a credit card in order to keep treating him. While he was eventually flown home by a friend with access to a medical jet, Autrey said he was never satisfied with the answers about what happened to him.
The story of 20-year-old Abbey Conner inspired him to come forward with his account. Conner was found unconscious in January in the hotel pool at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Mexico after drinking at the hotel bar. She was pronounced dead at a hospital – her death ruled an accidental drowning. A subsequent investigation into her death proved to yield more questions than answers for her family.
“I read about the Conner girl,” said Autrey. “It made the hair on my arms stand up because it was so scary similar to what happened to me.”
While exactly what happened to both Autrey and Conner hasn’t been explicitly proven, Mexico has long had a problem with illicit alcohol. Authorities in the country seized around 10,000 gallons of such alcohol from a variety of places earlier in August. Government officials cited “bad manufacturing practices” at one unidentified company. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed around 26 incidents in which American tourists in Mexico blacked out after drinking at a luxury resort.
“If you don’t have the glass you’re drinking out of, or the bottle they pour it out of, you have no case, really,” Autrey said.
Up to 36 percent of alcohol served in Mexico was illegal, a 2017 report by Euromonitor International found. The United States State Department issued a travel warning in July urging caution to anyone who planned to drink alcohol in Mexico. Travelers were urged to “stop and seek medical attention” should they begin to feel ill and keep alcohol consumption to moderate amounts.