Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mississauga man trapped in Cuba after car accident

Mississauga man trapped in Cuba after car accident
Damian Buksa, a 34-year-old Mississauga man, fell asleep in the back of
his rental car. His guide drove the car and crashed into a tree. Now
Buksa can't leave the country.
By: Tim Alamenciak News reporter, Published on Mon Oct 28 2013

A back-seat nap turned into a nightmare for Damian Buksa, who says an
evening at a bar in Cuba ended with his guide dying in a car accident
and the Mississauga man becoming stranded in the country for months.
Buksa, 34, says he was asleep in his rental car after leaving the bar
when his guide fatally plowed into a tree. Buksa was questioned by
police, who allowed him to keep his passport but advised him not to
leave Cuba.
That was nearly three months ago. Buksa still has little information on
when he will be permitted to leave.
"When I woke up . . . I didn't know we were in a different place. I felt
something on my forehead and wipe my hand and see blood. I looked around
the car — carnage. I knew something bad had happened," he said in a
phone interview.
More Video
Molotov cocktails thrown at police in NB shale gas protest
Swimmer Diana Nyad Defends Her Record-Breaking Swim
Buksa said the guide took the keys from his pocket while he slept. Two
women they had been drinking with at the bar were in the car with them,
he said. Both women survived.
Buksa, who is trained as an electronics engineer, said he sought help
from the Canadian Embassy and was told to listen to the Cubans.
He was billed $7,000 for the rental car and about $2,000 in medical
costs for himself and another injured passenger. He said he has paid up
but was still told not to leave the country.
The Canadian government is working on the case, said Foreign Affairs
spokesman Ian Trites.
"Canadian consular officials in Guardalavaca, Cuba are in contact with
local authorities to gather additional information and are providing
consular assistance to the affected Canadian citizen as required," said
He refused to elaborate, citing privacy reasons.
Buksa is not the first Canadian to be stranded in Cuba after a car
accident. Cody LeCompte, then 19, spent three months there in 2010 after
his rental car was sideswiped by a truck. Police also told him he must
stay while the investigation was ongoing.
"Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of
Canadians in Cuba," according to the Canadian government's Cuba travel
advice. All accidents are treated as crimes and those involved may be
asked to stay in the country until the trial is done. The document says
cases can take between five months and a year to go to trial.
Andy Gomez, a senior policy adviser for Poblete Tamargo LLP, a
Washington, D.C., law and public policy firm, and Cuba expert, said
negotiations are likely going on behind the scenes and there's no
telling how long the man could be stranded.
"The Cuban government has their own way of interpreting their own laws.
Whether the gentleman has not been charged or arrested, they will keep
him on the island as long as they want to regardless," he said.
Gomez said the Canadian government was wise to tell him to listen to
Cuban police.
"He (would) be stopped at the airport and possibly arrested. The laws
that they have on the books, their interpretation is according to them."
Meanwhile, Buksa's mother, Boguslawa Pec, said she's concerned for his
health and safety.
"He's by himself. He doesn't speak Spanish. He doesn't have anybody to
rely on to help him with anything. His credit card is up to max," she said.
Buksa said he injured his head in the crash and, while he received
primary medical care, still suffers from migraines and blackouts.
"This is an unhappy accident," said Pec. "My son should be home and
looked after in a hospital."

Source: Mississauga man trapped in Cuba after car accident | Toronto
Star -

No comments:

Post a Comment