A U.S. citizen was among 44 people killed during Holy Week this year in Costa Rica — the highest death toll for the holiday in a decade, the Costa Rican Red Cross reported Monday.
The 67-year-old U.S. man, identified by the last name Kritzer, died in an automobile accident near the beach town of Uvita on Friday, April 3. The vehicle he was traveling in veered off the road around 5 p.m. and fell 30 meters off a cliff.
The driver, a U.S. citizen and Costa Rican resident identified as Rienhard, 57, was behind the wheel when the accident took place. She was taken to Hospital de Puerto Cortés and was reported to be in stable condition on April 4, according to a statement from the Judicial Investigation Police.
The accident is under investigation but Rienhard passed an alcohol test.
Many Costa Ricans and visitors skip the reenactments of the Passion during Holy Week to hit the beaches and bars for one of the biggest party weeks of the year. The Red Cross usually sees a spike in requests for assistance during the holiday, but this year’s death count alarmed officials even after the first weekend of the Easter vacation.
Car accidents were the largest single killer during Holy Week, with 16 deaths caused by overturned vehicles, collisions and pedestrian hits. Red Cross statistics did not include what role alcohol might have played in these accidents.
Authorities attended to 534 people during the week with peaks of activity on Palm Sunday, and Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The number of patients was more than double that of 2014, when the Red Cross attended to 234 people.
Police meanwhile arrested 1,804 people for a variety of crimes, including 475 for drugs and 125 for domestic violence. The Coast Guard rescued 12 people: seven in Quepos, near Manuel Antonio National Park; 3 in Flamingo; and 2 in Caldera. Transit Police gave out 7,949 tickets.