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Canadian trapped in Cuba after car accident


Should we get “a large dose of common sense” at the top of the “Happy Packing Guide” thread??

Given the fairly reasonable cost of using a driver in Cuba, friends and I always hire a taxi and driver for a full day when we want to go off somewhere. By splitting the cost 4 (or more) ways, it works out to a lot less than a tour or a car rental, and the drivers are experienced in pig,goat,cactus avoidance techniques.

Poor kid.


What happens if the boy was indeed on the contract for rental ? It happens all the time, in fact my boy is down there right now renting a car and he is a G1 driver up here and 18 years old. He told me on the phone last night he has a rental contract and as long as he has the contract they can do nothing. I told him to take the bloody car back to the rental office and cancel the rental. He is not a happy camper and I doubt he will listen to me as his vacation is almost over and he will be coming back soon enough. He’ll tell me he took it back but I will never know if he did unless he has an accident.


Welcome to Debbie’s, wusang.
I wonder how much it would be to keep him in a hotel in Cuba for a year awaiting trial? Probably be cheaper if he ended up in jail, then deported on release.
I was smarter than everyone when I was 18 too. :wink:

For all interested, here is a site that looks after 3 Rental agencies in Cuba with their full conditions:

My read of this is “An 18 year old may rent a car in their own name and pay the underage fees. ( I’ve been advised this might not be the case ) However, they may not drive a rental with a contract in anyone else’s name or allow anyone else to drive their rental.” Exactly the same as in Canada except 19 here.

wusang’s son may have paid the triple rate and be legal??.. but the driving conditions are still awful and “visitors” are always at fault. Credit card must be able to cover damages or he won’t be able to leave Cuba.
Safe return… :sunglasses:

Note to Everyone, I just got some PM’s from members who rent, like Martian and have never, ever seen a rental contract for under 21. Age 18 can pay for the rental but not drive. … Be advised!!


I’ve added that link to our Cuba FAQ section.


wusang, with all due respect, I believe that’s a mistake (but then again, as Spunky said, we were 18 once and smarter than everyone else too).

I’ve been driving 4-wheeled vehicles for 33 years and motorcycles for longer than that (with well over 200,000 motorcycle miles under my butt) and I won’t even consider renting a car or a scooter in Cuba, for many of the reasons we’ve seen in this thread.

It’s very clearly published what the consequences are if one is involved in an accident in Cuba. I’m not saying I agree with their policies, but they’re there for everyone to see.


CBC TV “Connect with Mark Kelley”… just did an interview with the mother. Another 2 to 6 months till trial? ???


My husband and I are truck drivers with many years of experience. Having said this does not mean all is well on the road. Cuban roads have many other factors involved. Ie goats , people.
We have had a close call on our way to Havana. Big open highway. Some fellow happened to appear out of nowhwhere. We were lucky. You think you are aware off the consenequenses.This issue with this young fellow held in cuba well its frighting. I would like to think that we can be free to travel as long as the rules are followed and no short cuts. ie someone not insured properly.Your on holiday and think all is well Great. Can only say it is not your home country. Different rules apply. Hope all well turns out for our young lad.


I hope all turns out as well. I cannot imagine how frigtened the whole family is. As for me, I would never rent anything, be it a car or a scooter in Cuba, or any other country for that matter. I hope it ends soon for the family.

  1. the Mother broke the law by letting him drive (not in the contract)

  2. the kid broke the law, by not being 21!!

mom: Yes I put the bullets in the gun, but I didn’t know he was going to fire it…

son: Yes I knew there were bullets in the gun, but I didn’t know what the trigger was…

“Yes, I loaded and fired the gun, but “Jose” was on a curfew from 11pm til 9am, so his “illegal act” of being out on the street, caused him to get hit by the bullet I fired.”

Try selling that to a Jury, even here in Canada… :stuck_out_tongue:

So, Lets see here… I’m “accused” of “Vehicular Manslaughter” ( as an example) in New York City. Guaranteed, one of the conditions of bail, is to surrender my passport. (so I can’t leave).

Is he in Jail in Cuba??? No, he’s in the hotel… Hence he got bail…Will the City of New York put me up in the Ritz Carleton, while I wait trial, while out on bail??? I don’t think so!


His vehicle was the one that was broadsided. Was he in the wrong (other then being too young maybe)?


So, Lets see here… I’m “accused” of “Vehicular Manslaughter” ( as an example) in New York City. Guaranteed, one of the conditions of bail, is to surrender my passport. (so I can’t leave).

His vehicle was the one that was broadsided. Was he in the wrong (other then being too young maybe)?[/quote]

I doubt that we have enough info to make a call.
It could have been an uncontrolled intersection, he missed the stop sign, or yield.
There could be a number of things that he did or did not do if the road was as bad as his family stated , then why did he go through an intersection and not see a large truck coming the other way .
Around here you learn very quickly to observe the oncoming lane for people that are in their own little world.


[quote=@gambitt]1) the Mother broke the law by letting him drive (not in the contract)

  1. the kid broke the law, by not being 21!![/quote]

Do we actually know these things for facts?

True in Canada also, if it is a serious personal injury accident which will involve a trial. I don’t think Cuba is unique in wanting to insure an accused person doesn’t just leave and not return.

As to the merits of the case…I don’t think we have enough information. As anyone who has been in a crash can tell you, things are seldom as simple as they might at first appear.

There is a lesson here for those who want to learn it. “There but for the grace of God…”


Relax. Have a cigar. The kid’s not dead. The Mom’s not dead…NOBODY is dead because of the accident. This is good. The kid gets to experience something. He’ll be home with a tale to tell his buddies.
It’ll all work out OK. Have faith. (I rent cars and scooters all the time in Cuba.)
Just be CAREFUL!!!


What we’re reading and hearing in the news might not be the entire story. It never ceases to amaze me… If there’s ever an event reported in the media that I have first-hand knowledge of, the facts are nearly always skewed, incomplete or just plain wrong. I have a feeling there’s a little more to this accident story than we’re all aware of. It’s the nature of the news media to report a very small percentage of the truth. Researching and explaining the story in depth doesn’t sell TV commercials as well as the “backwards Cuban judicial system” hype.

That being said, I have to agree with Gambitt. At least he’s awaiting trial in a resort instead of the klink. Granted, he’s young and probably scared, and the whole ordeal is likely costing the family a fortune, but things could certainly be worse.


I volunteer to " do time " on mal tiempo in Cayo Largo.
Near the beach bar of course.
I might need help too ,any takers?


I have 2 sons in their mid 20’s and I can’t imagine having to leave one of them in Cuba, or anywhere else for that matter, with their future in limbo. My heart goes out to his mother and the rest of the family. It is a valuable lesson learned at a very young age, follow the laws of the country you are visiting.

VCC, when exactly is it that you will need this assistant? I can check my work schedule and see if I can fit it in ;D.


VCC, they’d drag your butt to Gerona, lock you up, and the only rum you’d see would be flying over at 25000 ft.
Unless community service included raking the turtle hatchery on Punta Mal Tiempo. In that case, I volunteer.


No , I just would like to " serve " my time on the beach.
My warden could be my babe.
I would have to be a baaaaad boy :wink:

Dreams are sooo cool , aren’t they ?




It might be worth the effort if all of us ask the resort car rental agency a sample question next time we visit: “My son is 19, can he drive a rental car?” Then report back here to see how wide spread the bad advice may be.