San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Hit and run

U.S. tourist victim of hit and run involving Presidency Ministry car

A walk through downtown San José nearly turned deadly for one U.S. tourist when a car registered to Costa Rica’s Presidency Ministry allegedly ran into her before fleeing the scene.

An article from the Spanish-language news site CR Hoy identified the victim of Saturday’s accident as 74-year-old Shirley Folger, from Arizona.

Folger and witnesses told CR Hoy that the license plate number of the car that hit her was 777669, which corresponds to a 2009 Nissan X-Trail registered to the Presidency Ministry, according to a registry database search conducted by The Tico Times.

A Presidency Ministry spokeswoman confirmed Thursday to The Tico Times that the accident did take place. She identified the driver and government employee who fled the scene as Maykel Marchena Loría.

The Tico Times reached out to Ms. Folger by calling several different phone numbers found through basic record searches, but has so far been unable to speak with her.

Folger told CR Hoy that she was walking on a sidewalk along Paseo Colón, the busy main street that connects the center of San José to La Sabana Park, when a car driving at high speed turned the corner and hit her.

“I was stepping up onto the curb when the car came up on the corner very, very fast,” Folger told the Spanish-language site. “Then it hit me on my right-hand side and threw me across the sidewalk and into the wall.

“At that point, there was a business across the road and the gentleman there came out and yelled for the car to stop,” Folger continued. “It slowed down… The person in the car knew that they had hit me because it slowed down. There was also a taxi at the light and he also yelled for the car to stop.”

Folger told CR Hoy that she was scheduled to take a flight back to the United States that same day, so she decided to delay a visit to the hospital until she returned home. According to pictures published by the news site, Folger suffered significant scratches and bruises on her arms and legs.

She added in her conversation with the reporter that she was very grateful to the store owner and other locals who helped her. She said she loves Costa Rica and its people overall, but that she was disappointed with the actions of the people in the car.

The Presidency Ministry spokeswoman said no formal complaint has been filed against Marchena. She said that the ministry would pass on necessary details to the Public Security Ministry, which will be in charge of a subsequent investigation into the incident.

This latest news broke on a rough day for the president’s office, which is currently at the center of a scandal involving the salaries of some of the administration’s high-level ministerial staff. A press release from the Presidency Ministry also announced Thursday that Mariano Figueres, the director of the Department of Intelligence and Security, had suffered a heart attack while on an official visit to Germany. Figueres is in stable condition as he recovers in a hospital in Munich, the ministry release said.

Contact Michael Krumholtz at mkrumholtz@ticotimes.net

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Juan Mayer

Hi Ken,

I completely share your point of you. The media and the traffic officers enjoy blaming the pedestrians or the more vulnerable road users when they get hit or run over.

However, there is a paragraph in the traffic law that applies to the situation reported here:
ARTÍCULO 102.-
maniobra
Reducción de velocidad, cambio de carril e indicación previa de
Todo conductor que reduzca la velocidad, que intente detenerse, cambiar de carril, de
dirección o que estando estacionado pretenda reingresar a la vía, debe cerciorarse, antes de iniciar
la maniobra, de que puede ejecutarla con seguridad. Además, está obligado a dar aviso por medio
de las señales luminosas correspondientes. Esta señal no otorga derecho a realizar la maniobra, si
con ello pone en peligro a los demás usuarios de la vía.

So before turning you have to make sure not to put anyone at danger.

The is also at least one case in which a ciclist won a lawsuit against somebody who ran him over due to the higher operational hazard of motorvehicles.
Nevertheless, this concept is not widely know nor applied.
Especially many drivers of buses or trucks are not aware of this and drive as if they had a normal car, while they should drive more defensively with vehicles of higher operational hazards.

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Juan Mayer

Oh, but I forgot to mention. I couldn’t find a fine in the traffic law or disrespecting your responsibilities before turning.

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Ken Morris

Ah, so the driver was turning! Unbeknownst to most tourists and expats, this probably made Ms. Folger at fault and puts the driver in the clear. Worse, if this incident is included in the data on pedestrians being hit by cars, it will be listed as just another instance in which the pedestrian was at fault and therefore another excuse for the authorities to preach about the need for pedestrians to be better educated about traffic safety.

You see, in Costa Rica when motorists have the right-away at an intersection, that entitles them to either go straight or turn, regardless of who is in the way. Only if Ms. Folger happened to be crossing in one of the rare designated crosswalks would the driver be held responsible.

This is absolutely the worst feature of Costa Rica’s traffic law and driving customs–and also the reason why many pedestrians choose to cross the streets in mid-block. Although the law says that pedestrians must cross at intersections, the law also allows motorists to turn into them at intersections. It’s often safer for pedestrians to jaywalk than it is to cross as they are supposed to at intersections.

Of course, the driver may be guilty of hit-and-run, but my bet is that the infaction is only running rather than hitting.

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lorenbford

From the description in the article, it appears that Ministry of the Presidency driver Maykel Marchena Loría drives should be arrested for negligent driving and corporal aggression on a person, U.S. citizen Shirley Folger. However, it’s likely that no charges will be filed against Marchena because Ms. Folger decided to seek medical care at home so continued to the airport to board her flight there. Tico Times, please follow this case to determine and report whether the Presidency Ministry takes appropriate action against Marchena. No doubt, unless Ms. Folger returns to Costa Rica to press charges, which I hope that she does because Marchena ought to lose his drivers license at the minimum, and should lose his job and be imprisoned for the hit-and-run, that the Presidency Ministry will take no action whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Mariano Figueres should burn a candle in church to give thanks that his heart attack occurred in Germany, where he no doubt recieved top-notch medical care.

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lorenbford

From the description in the article, it appears that Ministry of the Presidency driver Maykel Marchena Loría drives should be arrested for negligent driving and corporal aggression on a person, U.S. citizen Shirley Folger. However, it’s likely that no charges will be filed against Marchena because Ms. Folger decided to seek medical care at home so continued to the airport to board here flight there. Tico Times, please follow this case to determine and report whether the Presidency Ministry takes appropriate action against Marchena. No doubt, unless Ms. Folger returns to Costa Rica to press charges, which I hope that she does because Marchena ought to lose his drivers license at the minimum, and should lose his job and be imprisoned for the hit-and-run.

Meanwhile, Mariano Figueres should burn a candle in church to give thanks that his heart attack occurred in Germany, where he no doubt recieved top-notch medical care.

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Bobpiazza

That many unrelated witnesses with a similar report of the occurrence, seems to me the driver should have been terminated at the least.

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