A San Diego surfer and marine veteran is back in San Diego after spending four days in a Mexican jail following a car crash in the Tijuana-Ensenada area Sunday.
Mexican Police said Rob Thomas, 41, made an illegal turn and was broadsided by a taxi passenger van. Several passengers in the van were injured, including a woman with a fractured knee, a man who had to be hospitalized with a broken hip and an 11-year-old girl with a broken nose.
“Just like a lightning strike, but it was so loud that we shouted because we got scared,” said Edilberto Garcia, who was involved in the crash.
A judge in Rosarito determined on Wednesday that the damages in the incident amounted to $30,000.
Thomas was arrested and taken to jail because he was driving in Mexico without insurance.
“That is the biggest mistake,” said Thomas’ friend, Mikey Beats. “In Mexico, if you don’t have car insurance and you get in an accident, you get thrown in jail unless you can pay for it on the spot.”
Thomas could not pay on the spot. Thomas’ lawyer said the charges would have been dropped if a Mexican citizen had been involved in the crash. However, his client’s foreign status creates the presumption of escape.
A GoFundMe page raised money to get Thomas out of jail. Donations are still needed to help pay for the victims’ injuries and property damage, Beats said.
“We’re very thankful for anyone who has given anything," said Beats. “We’re also making sure victims on other side are compensated for their injuries. They had nothing to do with this. They are victims and this is a very unfortunate accident."
Friends are also happy Thomas is back in the United states. They took him to his favorite taco shop before taking him home.
Thomas is careful and smart, Beats said.
“It’s just one of those times, you think it’s not going to happen to you and it happens," he said. "The lesson is make sure you have insurance."
Five Mexican citizens who live in Tijuana were also involved in the crash. They were going to go fishing at a nearby beach.