Thursday, May 9, 2013

Costa Rica: American Tourist, 31, Shot, Killed, Resisting Armed Assailants in Capital

US citizen Steven Flesch, 31, who was shot by five armed assailants in April 2, 2013,  in the capital of San José, and who later died from his wounds in a local hospital, sadly is an example of a foreign traveler making several bad choices.

COMMENT: First of all, we extend our sincerest condolences and sympathies to Mr. Flesch's family in the hope they will find peace and closure.

Considering that the central theme of this blog is to help all travelers stay safe abroad (regardless of nationality), we offer several suggestions to foreign travelers in the future:

1. As I have said so many times in the past, no traveler should step aboard a plane destined for a foreign destination without FIRST subscribing to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage.

Having such coverage no doubt would have eliminated the need for Mr. Flesch's family to attempt to solicit financial help from family and friends to pay for his hospital bill and return his remains to the US for burial.

Such coverage as that described above generally runs US$8 a day when compared to the cost-prohibitive fees of lengthy hospital stays where facilities often require the payment of treatment in advance, and the exorbitant cost of medical evacuations (the latter of which can easily run US$100,000 or more).

2. Unfortunately, violent crime in Latin America is a frequent occurrence, which is why I have always advised travelers NOT to resist armed robbery, as no amount of property is worth your life.

3. Although Mr. Flesch's assailants have been arrested, no amount of punishment will ever bring this American citizen back to life, which is why resisting a violent crime is so ill-advised.

4. Nikki Lannert, Mr. Flesch's sister, described her experience in attempting to get help from the US Embassy in San José as "horrible," which is why I urge travelers to be as self-reliant as possible, as many diplomatic and consular missions around the world are generally not particularly helpful.

Finally, Costa Rica is hardly a low-risk destination, as demonstrated by so many of my postings over the years.

Clearly, all travelers, regardless of destination, must be prepared for being targeted by violent criminals and fully understand how to avoid being seriously injured or killed.