A B.C. politician and her husband have become the latest in a high-profile string of Canadians to run into trouble in Mexico.
Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Diane Thorne and her spouse, Neil Edmondson, visited Mexico earlier this month for a vacation, as they had a dozen times before.
Ms. Thorne said that on Jan. 10, the couple were driving with two friends in the port city of Progreso when two motorcycles struck their rented car.
Mr. Edmondson, who was driving, was arrested and jailed.
“My husband said it was the worst thing that ever happened to him in his life,” Ms. Thorne said in an interview on Friday.
At first, Ms. Thorne said there was no reason to believe the accident was anything sinister. The motorcycles had tried to pass while the vehicle was turning left and slammed into the side of the car.
One of the drivers and his passenger quickly left the scene. The driver of the other motorcycle and his passenger appeared to be okay, Ms. Thorne said.
Police and ambulance arrived within minutes. A woman who saw the collision came out of her home to say Mr. Edmondson wasn’t to blame.
“‘It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault; kids always do that, they go up on the wrong side to pass,’” Ms. Thorne recalled the witness saying.
Ms. Thorne’s party were having difficulty communicating with police at the scene, and a stranger offered to translate. The man went to the police station with Mr. Edmondson. Ms. Thorne was told she couldn’t come along, but wasn’t given a reason.
Ms. Thorne and her friends returned to their hotel and waited for a few hours. When they didn’t hear anything, they had the hotel owner contact police.
“He was pretty shaken up,” Ms. Thorne said of Mr. Edmondson. He was sitting in a small interrogation room and, on his way into the station, had seen a man in handcuffs on the floor with a gun pointed at him, she said.
Mr. Edmondson – who has severe asthma and has had several strokes – was escorted to the bathroom by armed policemen once during the incident, and was not offered any food or water.
Police told Ms. Thorne and her husband it would be three days before he could appear before a judge. Or, she said, they could pay a fine and leave that day. The $1,500 apparently covered injuries to the motorcycle driver, money the translator claimed he had already paid to police, and an impound fee.
Ms. Thorne said it appears she and her husband may have been fleeced.
“At this point in time, we don’t know who was in on the scam, if there was a scam, if everybody was in on it, including the interpreter. We have no idea.”
The couple are recovering at home. Despite the ordeal, Ms. Thorne and Mr. Edmondson – who turns 78 next week – said they plan to return to Mexico.
“We know lots of Mexican people from over the years and we love them. It’s a wonderful place,” she said. “This is a result of people not being paid a living wage. These cops make almost no money, they have families to feed.”
Foreign Affairs has warned Canadians traveling to Mexico to “exercise a high degree of caution due to a deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.” That warning also said high levels of criminal activity remain a concern throughout the country.
A Penticton man who was injured in a gang shootout in Mexico returned home this week.
A Toronto woman earlier this month alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Mexican police while on vacation.