Posted on October 4, 2004

Tragic Trip

Theresa Freed, KAKE (Wichita), Oct. 2

After a fall of more than 40-feet, Mexican medical teams refuse to help a Kansas man. It was a trip to discover his heritage but instead turns tragic.

The 23-year-old was going to Mexico to meet his birth father for the first time. He had been living with his adopted parents his entire life in Newton.

Many people take for granted the quality of emergency medical care in the United States. It’s one mistake a Newton family will never make again.

It’s a lesson about health care that 21-year-old Olivia Sanchez learned the hard way. Olivia and her 23-year-old brother Ricardo recently traveled to Mexico to meet their biological family. A Newton family adopted them at the ages of 6 and 8.

During the trip, the brother and sister went swimming at the family’s ranch. That’s when Ricardo started climbing a cliff.

“I was watching him go up and down the rocks,” says Olivia Sanchez. “He made it up once, then he came back down. Then he went back up and it was the second time that he fell.”

Ricardo plummeted 40-feet to the ground. He was rushed to a Mexican hospital with severe head injuries. The physicians would not treat him, because he didn’t have health insurance.

“When you have a head injury, those first few hours are real critical and it seems like we got the information too late,” says Greg Sanchez, Ricardo’s father.

Ricardo was eventually transferred to another hospital, where he was put on life support and then a week later died.

It’s a tragedy that the family says should’ve never happened.

The United States federal law mandates access to emergency care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

“Anybody that’s thinking about going on a trip over there, I’d think twice again about it,” says Greg Sanchez.

Family say Ricardo was a very caring and loving man. He had plans to marry his fiancé in just a few years. A funeral will be held this Friday at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton. The burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery.