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A US man is trapped in the Dominican republic after crash that wasn’t his fault

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic — A father from Beaverton says he’s trapped in a foreign country after a deadly crash he claims wasn’t his fault.

John Ekman and his girlfriend, Lori Breeden, said Ekman is not allowed to leave the Dominican Republic and that he could be there for months.

The couple left their home on Oct. 28 for the country they’ve long thought of as paradise.

“I’m heartbroken because I really love this place,” Ekman told KATU via FaceTime on Monday. “I love these people.”

Ekman and Breeden have been to the Dominican Republic three times since Ekman retired from his career as an electrician last year.

They said if Ekman’s ever able to leave the country, they’ll likely never come back.

“I’m an amputee. I lost my leg when I was a teenager,” said Breeden. “That was not great but I’d do that again over going through this.”

On the night of Nov. 8, Ekman said he and Breeden were driving a rental car in the city of La Romana.

They were on a busy freeway and excited about exploring the city when disaster struck.

“We came upon, like, with no time to react there’s a motorcycle lying down flat in our lane right in the middle of our lane in the freeway,” Ekman said, “and we impacted the motorcycle, the air bags went off.”

They pulled off the side of the road immediately, Ekman said, and went back to the crash scene to wait for police.

“I speak fluent Spanish,” said Ekman. “The few people that were there were chattering about (the motorcyclist) had been hit by a truck … I see this man and I’m just … I was in shock.”

Ekman and Breeden said they were eventually taken to a police station where family members of the motorcyclist who died had gathered outside.

“A young police officer that was there with us, he was nervous because he was hearing things and I heard, ‘Killer!’, ‘Assassin!’” said Ekman.

He was then thrown in jail.

“The stench of urine from in there,” Ekman recalled, “there’s no beds, there’s nothing. It’s just a concrete hole and there were five people in lock-up in there.”

Breeden immediately called the U.S. Embassy, she said, and two days later Ekman was given a bail hearing and let out after paying $200.

The prosecutor accused him of speeding, Ekman said, and his passport was taken away for up to six months.

Ekman said he’s hired a lawyer and that he committed no crime.

“Everybody’s saying you’re gonna get out of this, you’re gonna be OK,” Ekman said. “So I wanna keep that in mind, but I’m still terrified because I don’t know how long.”

Ekman and Breeden said they’ve also contacted the offices of Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden as well as the office of Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

A Wyden staff member told KATU they’re “working diligently with the family and U.S. authorities to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

KATU began reaching out to the government of the Dominican Republic Monday morning and so far has not received a response.

Ekman said he has three daughters ranging in ages 19 to 23.


Nov 17, 2015

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 14, 2018 at 12:43 AM
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