A Winnipeg man who was stuck in Cuba for seven weeks following a scooter crash is warning others not to rent any kind of vehicle while travelling in other countries.
Ted Barnett, 60, said his latest experience in Varadero, Cuba, demonstrates that those who rent vehicles abroad could end up at the mercy of local authorities if anything happens.
"I've rented a moped before. I've had no problems. This time, it was a little bit different," said Barnett, who returned to Winnipeg over the weekend.
Barnett said he has been to Varadero three times before going back on Jan. 11 for what was supposed to be a week-long stay.
But five days into his trip, he was driving a rented scooter when he lost control of the vehicle and struck a female pedestrian, breaking the woman's leg as a result.
"It's not in my nature to go out and hurt people. It was an accident, a simple accident," he said.
No charges laid
It took Cuban officials weeks to finish their investigation, while Barnett faced a growing hotel bill at the resort he had booked.
In the end, no charges were laid and Barnett was allowed to return to Canada.
Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba, according to the federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
The department warns that it could take between five months to a year for a case to go to trial.
It's for that kind of reason that CAA Manitoba advises travellers not to rent mopeds abroad.
"Depending on where you rent from, you're going to small rental companies. You're signing different contracts that you don't know what you're responsible for or what you're at risk for," said Kim Paulicelli, CAA Manitoba's manager of travel services.
Paulicelli said travellers are better off taking a bus trip with a tour operator than taking a chance alone with a rented vehicle.
Luckily for Barnett, the woman who was hit by the scooter is expected to make a full recovery. She even invited him over for coffee when she was released from hospital, he added.