Man accused of attacking U.S. surfers with machete in Pavones

January 19, 2012

A man attacked two expat surfers with a machete in an incident caught on videotape in the southern Pacific beach town of Pavones.

A U.S. family on vacation recorded the attack by a man in a kayak against two stand-up paddle surfers at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 1. The attack took place on the beach at Pavones Break, a beach on the far southern Pacific coast. A man with long hair is seen swinging a machete at one surfer before losing grip of the weapon. The attacker then proceeds to beat the man with one of his paddles.

The Tico Times obtained a copy of a report from the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) that described the allegations. (The alleged victims would not comment for the story.) According to the report, the alleged attacker accused one of the surfers of nearly hitting his daughter with the surfboard. But in the report, an alleged victim stated not seeing anybody near them that morning.

A source close to the situation said the assailant had threatened another resident in the days leading up to the attack, and told residents to stay away from Pavones Break since it was a private location. However, Costa Rica’s Maritime Zone laws do not allow for the purchase of private beach.

The alleged attacker appears to be a community member. But residents did not want to release the name of the attacker, until the OIJ advanced its investigation.

Don Hayes, a U.S. expat who’s lived in the area for more than two decades, saw the video and condemned the attacks. Hayes owns one of the boards damaged by the machete. (He was not on the water that morning). Hayes said this goes beyond a “surfer beef” to “assault with a deadly weapon.”

“We have a lot of people that come here and surf [including] my granddaughters, my daughters and my nephew. I had a guy from Wisconsin, a son of a friend a few weeks back and he brought a friend, they brought some Israelis and they camped on the beach,” Hayes said. “And now we can’t safely send people out.”

According to the OIJ report, the alleged attacker swung the machete at the first surfer, who held up his paddle to protect himself. The machete cut through the paddle, but blunted the impact. The victim sustained several blows with the side of the machete before he dove into the water. The alleged assailant chopped up the surfer’s paddle with the machete.

In a scene caught on videotape, the man then moves toward another stand-up paddle surfer, who holds out a hand to protect shield himself as the kayaker takes out the machete. The camera pans up before panning back down, and showing the assailant swinging a couple times before losing grip of the machete, which flies into the ocean. The assailant also hits the surfer on his head with his kayak paddle. Before returning to shore, he allegedly “threatened to send Colombian friends” after the residents, the OIJ report said.

A woman at the OIJ branch in Ciudad Neily said the department was investigating the allegations. 

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