Couple's vacation ruined

A 'nightmare'



A trip that held promise to be a relaxing vacation at a five-star resort on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico ended up on the first day as a "terrifying nightmare" for a married couple of the Weyburn Police Service.

Inspector Russ Chartrand and his wife, Const. Caroline Chartrand, left on Feb. 13 for the Gran Bahia Principe Tulum resort near Playa Del Carman, and the nightmare began right after they took part in the orientation session on their first day.

Detailed statements made by both Russ and Caroline were provided to the Weyburn Review, along with a medical report of blood tests conducted at a private clinic near the resort. The statements were given to the holiday organizers, Westjet Vacations, in an attempt to get restitution for their ruined vacation, but they only met skepticism from officials there, and very little help was provided to them.

According to their statements, the Chartrands met up with friends, a couple from Red Deer, Stacy and Kim Barnes, at the main pool right after the orientation, and had a couple of drinks each from the inside bar.

As the day was cloudy, the group decided they would head into Playa Del Carman for the day, and Stacy got them each one more drink from the swim-up bar.

Caroline sipped at her drink and decided she didn't like it, so Russ took it and poured it into his; after Russ drank some of it, he lost consciousness and has no memory of what happened for the next six hours.

In a statement done up and submitted to Westjet Vacations, Caroline continued the narrative about what happened to Russ.

"The next thing I remember was someone in the pool saying to me, 'it looks like your husband is having a hard time getting over the wall.' I looked and Russ was trying to get out of the pool by climbing over the wall to the east of the swim-up bar over by where the bridge is. I was not feeling good at this point now either and knew I had to get out of the pool too," she said, and recalled a lady helped her as she was feeling very disoriented.

She learned the next day an Ontario couple helped Russ get out of the water along with her.
When Caroline was able to get back over to their lounge chairs, she saw her friend Stacy throwing up; Kim came over and explained this occurred after taking a drink and becoming very disoriented. Kim mentioned that Russ was in his lounge chair and seemed to be in the same condition as Stacy.

Caroline then went over to see how Russ was doing, "and he was laying face up in the lounge chair. I saw only the whites of his eyes and he would not respond to me. At this point I totally freaked out and was scared to death. I was yelling for people to help me and to call an ambulance, and saying someone had drugged us and that we needed help."

At some point a resort worker took Caroline by the arm and said she needed to get her visa and passport; as she was "in a very frantic state" she couldn't find her purse, so they went back downstairs and saw an ambulance parked out front. She got in and was told an ambulance had already left with Russ for a private hospital, while Kim and Stacy were in this ambulance; she rode with them to the hospital.

Caroline felt sick the entire trip, and upon arrival at the hospital threw up. Meantime, Russ and Stacy were taken inside and were put on intravenous, and a Dr. Hernandes was attending to them. He said he was doing a drug screen; Caroline explained that somebody had put something in to one of their drinks.

According to the report, Russ's urine tested negative for cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and opiates, but he had a blood-alcohol reading of .08 mg.

Caroline asked the doctor if he could take a blood sample that she could bring back to Canada to get tested, but he refused to do so. She then tried calling the police to try and compel a blood sample; neither officer who came could speak English, so the hospital receptionist translated her request to them; not knowing what the police were really being told, the police wouldn't help so Caroline just thanked them for their help and they left.

Russ began to wake up just as Caroline began to be very concerned for their continuing safety, and she wanted him to be able to leave with her. After much arguing, a hospital staff person removed his IV, but then the wives of the men were forced to leave the hospital. Still feeling disoriented, Russ and Stacy got up and exited the hospital, finding their wives, and ended back at the resort.

Prior to leaving the hospital, Caroline was able to obtain urine samples from both men, and sealed the remaining drink, keeping it refrigerated, and was able to bring both back to Canada; at press time, the samples were being tested in Regina, and the couple is hoping to get some answers to what happened to them.

The next day, the couple went to speak with the Westjet representative, but "she was not at all helpful and dismissed our story as simply over-consumption of booze. She told us she was advised by the resort staff of what happened, and we simply drank too much, were cut off by the bartenders, and had consumed a number of tequila shooters."

Russ added they did not drink any shooters, and were never cut off by the bartenders; they tried to offer her a copy of the medical report on Russ, but she refused to look at it.

"We felt fearful, uncomfortable and unsafe for the duration of our trip. We were uneasy all the time of our well-being, whether or not something else would happen, or if we would even be allowed to leave," said Russ, noting they were later contacted by their travel agent in Weyburn, who offered them a chance to fly home early on a free flight; they would have taken the offer, but were afraid of leaving their friends behind at the resort, and what flags would be raised with the resort and the police.

The bill for the hospital stay was almost $1,300 US, and the ambulance ride cost $678 US.
Russ said they wanted the truth about what happened to them to be known to the public, and to provide their experience as a warning of what can happen while on vacation.
"This was a holiday from hell; our well-being was jeopardized, our safety was compromised," said his statement.

For Caroline's part, she shared his concerns: "I never felt safe at the resort after this incident. I felt that the hotel was doing and saying whatever they needed in order to cover their reputation. Our 'so-called' holiday was totally ruined. It was more like a terrifying nightmare instead of a relaxing holiday, and I will never return to Mexico again!"

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