Skip to comments.Surfer's Baja Tale Is Warning To Others (American Tourists Robbed And Raped In Mexico)
Posted on 11/19/2007 11:16:35 AM PST by DogByte6RER
Surfer's Baja tale is warning to others
Camping trip ended in robbery, assault
By Terry Rodgers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
November 19, 2007
Pat Weber didn't plan on being part of a crime trend that has generated worldwide buzz this past week, but he didn't have much choice.
The Encinitas resident and surfing instructor got lost on a dirt road in Baja California last month while looking for a surfing spot called Cuatro Casas. He and his girlfriend decided to park for the night on a bluff overlooking the ocean.
Just after sundown, two men wearing ski masks approached Weber's motor home and ordered him to come out. He refused but surrendered after they fired a bullet through a window.
The assailants held a gun to Weber's head while they ransacked the motor home and took about $10,000 worth of items. They also sexually assaulted his girlfriend, Weber said.
It is the policy of The San Diego Union-Tribune not to identify victims of sexual crimes.
The Oct. 23 attack was one of at least six armed robberies and carjackings in the past five months that targeted surfers en route to camping spots in northern Baja. Some of the victims reported their experiences to the police, while others posted their stories on surfing and travel Web sites.
The Union-Tribune published details of the crimes Wednesday. Since then, blogs and TV and radio stations based everywhere from Southern California to Australia have covered the topic.
They have featured tourists who never encountered trouble in Baja and those who stopped visiting the peninsula's remote, picturesque beaches because of crimes that happened 10 or 20 years ago. A few included safety tips ahead of the Thanksgiving vacation stretch.
On Friday, a crew from CNN came to town to produce a segment about what Weber and his girlfriend went through.
I'm not asking for sympathy, said Weber, who said he went public to warn other travelers.
Weber said feels guilty that he couldn't defend his girlfriend, and he keeps second-guessing himself about the decision to camp in an isolated area. His sleep has been fitful, and he often feels a knot of emotions.
I'm like a piñata on wheels, loaded up and ready to be smashed open, he said.
Despite the trauma, Weber is thankful to be alive. (The gunmen) had all the cards, he said. It could have ended 100 different ways much worse.
Weber, 47, had logged more than 500 days in Baja and has taken dozens of students there over the past 10 years. Now he vows to never return.
I can't in good conscience take someone down there and say it's safe, because it's not, he said. For me, this is the end of an era.
On Friday, Weber invited friends and past students to a surfing session and potluck lunch at South Carlsbad State Beach, the home base for his San Diego Surfing Academy.
Weber said the group hug, his term for the event, will help heal his mental and emotional wounds. It's part of my catharsis, he said. I'm still numb and reeling from the experience. It's like a bad dream.
When the CNN crew showed up, Weber pointed out the bullet hole in his motor home.
That, I'm not going to get fixed, he said. I'm just going to plug it with a cork from a wine bottle.
Amid the rising concern about what some surfers see as sophisticated, paramilitary-style crimes in Baja, longtime visitors to the peninsula said tourists can take steps to reduce their chances of becoming victims.
They advised people to travel in caravans of two or more vehicles and to stay in campgrounds that have security guards. Some surfers urged campers to bring a dog and said it's a good idea to have a cell phone or rent a satellite phone.
When in Mexico at a remote site, you are vulnerable and you need to pay attention, said Kent Layton, who operates a fenced-in surf camp at Cuatro Casas called the Boat Ranch. Be proactive. Have a plan, and whenever possible, leave yourself an out.
Layton also recommends that travelers leave a copy of their itinerary with friends and family members.
The dumb ass should feel guilty. If you want to put yourself in a dangerous situation without any means of defense, that's your business. To take someone along with you is pretty low. Too bad the girl was as foolish as him.
A guy got five years in a Mexican prison for trying to cross the border with some lose ammunition rolling around in the back of his pickup that he forgot about. DON’T GO TO MEXICO WITH A GUN
Well, I guess that means stay home.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Nice place I’m sure..but it’s not worth my life to get there.
Old Pro, you get an automatic 5 year sentence for possessing a gun in Mexico. NEVER carry one across the border, many people that have accidentally driven to an entry port that have been searched and found with weapons get an automatic 5 year sentence - neither your attorney nor the U.S. State department can get you out, it is a nightmare beyond your wildest dreams. You certainly have the right concept, but everyone should be aware of the mexican laws, you can lose your life there easily either in prison or from being unable to defend yourself.
There was an article in Surfer magazine a couple of months ago - some California surfer dudes were robbed, shot, and left for dead by corrupt Federales south of San Diego. I myself am never going to Mexico again until they clean up the corrution there.
Yep. There was a guy in Texas who crossed the Border in his M.H. and had one round of ammo in it which he overlooked. He was senenced to years in Prison down there. It took months and hundreds of thousands of Dollars to get him out.
And now, he has a Felony on his record because of our Stupid Laws. So, due to having one bullet in a freakin’ Motorhome in Mexico, he is ineligible to own a firearm here in the U.S.
Nothing wrong with that, but from a practical POV these were multiple assailants with automatic rifles.
You'd have to be fast, and good to win even with a long gun, and there's a better than even chance everybody would wind up KIA.
Not a routine holdup.
Yikes. That was a pretty bad outcome. I hadn’t considered some of those ramifications.
Just don’t go to Mexico. Period. And don’t let Mexico come to the USA. Period.
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, become (surfing) instructors”!!!
I haven't been to Mexico for twenty years, and even then I traveled in a group and went no farther down the road than Ensenada.
Scary place, Baja.
I wonder what would have happened if he had had to kill one or both of the attackers and then had to deal with the Mexican police and Mexican court system.
Do tell me how President Bush is personally responsible for that. Please.
Mexico is a stinking, third world cess pool that makes its people take considerable risks to escape. The risk for us is that they’ll bring their problems with them.