College student kept in Costa Rica for 2 months speaks out
STOW, Mass. (WHDH) -- A local college student who was kept in Costa Rica for more than two months following a car accident talked about his international ordeal.
Michael Phillips, from Stow, went to Costa Rica back in March to compete in a triathlon, but the trouble began when he tried to return home.
Michael Phillips was back at Trinity College Monday night hoping to graduate with the rest of his class. While they were studying for finals, he was trying to figure how to escape from the Central American country.
He spent 12 hours at a Costa Rican police station and another 24 hours at a jail before his release following a minor traffic accident in which he says he struck someone.
"I was in shock, I couldn't believe what happened. I was very scared about it. I must have looked distressed because at one point the woman who was with that man ended up leaving his side for a moment and coming over to me and telling me to be calm and relax and everything was okay," Phillips said.
But for Michael Phillips, it really wasn't. He'd just competed in a triathlon and was heading for the airport. Instead, he ended up in Costa Rica for more than two months without any charges filed against him.
"He was absolutely devastated. He was in a cell that was -- there was a puddle of blood on the floor, there was feces on the wall," said Alison Philips, Michael’s mother.
Michael Phillips' mom said $5000 s bought him his freedom, but they were then told another $20 thousand would make things right and let him leave the country.
They said the prosecutor even talked about jailing the Trinity College student for three months.
"I was terrified. I could not even imagine three months in prison. I thought I was losing my mind after one night," Michael Phillips said.
Michael Phillips said the State Department suggested crossing the border -- and he decided Nicaragua was the closest way out.
"The rationale was that if I did not make the risk then I would definitely be staying in Costa Rica," Michael Phillips said.
Michael Phillips said the happiest day of his life was when he finally landed in Miami.
Senator John Kerry’s office and the State Department along with several other congressmen kept tabs on him during his terrifying journey.