The sister of a Kitchener, Ont., teen who died while on vacation in Mexico after being struck by a personal watercraft says the response by hotel staff and local paramedics was inadequate to deal with a medical emergency.
Camila Lopez, 16, was in a kayak that was struck by a water scooter piloted by a 16-year-old boy from the U.K. early Saturday afternoon, said her older sister, Pilar Lopez, 28.
She believes her sister died from internal injuries before she was pulled to shore.
Once on shore, Camila was attended to by a doctor from the resort — the Now Jade Riviera Cancun resort in Puerto Morelos, about 40 minutes from Cancun — where she was staying with her family. Her sister said the doctor did not seem to know what she was doing when she attempted to give emergency care.
"She was pushing down on Camila’s shoulder to try and give CPR, rather than on her chest or abdomen," Lopez said.
Lopez said three Americans who were medical professionals were at the scene and attempted to perform CPR. She said one of them, a nurse, noted that the hotel’s defibrillator was past its expiry date and its two oxygen tanks were not full.
"The nurse told me one of them was completely empty and the second only had 1,000 litres, which she said is less than half empty," Lopez said.
She said it took 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive on scene. CBC News tried repeatedly to contact the hotel for comment, but did not receive any response from staff.
The personal watercraft that struck and killed Camila was not supposed to be in the area where the girl was kayaking, Lopez said. She told CBC News she has heard the U.K. teen involved in the crash was held in police custody for two days and later placed in another hotel. Mexican authorities have not allowed him to leave the country.
Minimal assistance from Canadian government
In a statement to CBC News about the incident, a spokeswoman from the Department Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said, "Our thoughts are with the friends and family of a Canadian citizen who passed away in Mexico. Canadian officials are in contact with local authorities and are providing consular assistance to the family."
Emma Welford added that she could not comment on specific details of the case in order to "protect the privacy of the individual concerned."
Lopez said her family has had "very little help" from DFAIT or the Canadian Consulate in Cancun. Her husband and parents are also in Mexico.
"The only thing DFAIT said they could provide us with was a list of lawyers in Mexico," she said.
As for medical expenses and funeral home costs, Lopez said her family has had to pay for all of it themselves.
The resort where they are staying has offered the family free transportation to the funeral home and free international and local calling, but has denied any responsibility for the incident.
Lopez said her family members fear they are being watched by hotel staff, and that their phone calls are being monitored.
They plan to be back in Canada by Friday, and are aiming to have Camila’s funeral in Kitchener on Sunday.
St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener, where Camila was a student, plans to have a memorial in September when students return for classes.