Canadian woman trapped in Cuba after fatal accident could miss son’s funeral

Matthew Coutts
Daily Brew

A Canadian woman trapped in Cuba following a car accident that claimed the life of her three-year-old son is fighting to get home before his funeral next week.

But Cuban authorities seem set on keeping Justine Davis detained in the country until an investigation into the crash is complete, and Canadian officials appear unable to intervene.

Friends and family back in Toronto are working to rally support for Justine and get her home before the funeral for son Cameron on Feb. 8.

“We are urging the Canadian public to help Justine by reaching out to their Members of Parliament, local constituents, legal representatives, as well as the Cuban embassy in Ottawa, asking for Justine to be released in time to attend her son’s services,” reads a statement from her support group.

According to a Facebook group petitioning for her released, Cuban officials will not allow her to leave the country because the crash that killed her son is still under investigation.

According to Davis family friends, the ordeal began on Dec. 20, 2013, when Justine and Cameron arrived in Cayo Largo, Cuba for a week-long Christmas vacation following the death of her father.

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On Dec. 23, the pair rented a jeep, and later a scooter, to tour the island. While riding tandem on the scooter, the Davis' were involved in an accident with a truck on a partially-paved road.

Justine was air-lifted to a Havana hospital and rushed into surgery. She suffered a broken arm and a fractured leg. She would learn the next day that Cameron had died in the crash.

Cameron's body has since returned to Toronto, but Justine's return has been delayed by the police investigation. With her son's funeral set for Saturday, there has been no indication Justine will be released in time.

A Canadian travel advisory for Cuba notes:

Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba. Accidents resulting in death or injury are treated as crimes, and the onus is on the driver to prove innocence. Regardless of the nature of the accident, it can take five months to a year for a case to go to trial. In most cases, the driver will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place. In some cases, the driver will be imprisoned during this delay.

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More than 3,000 people have joined a Facebook group calling for the Canadian government to help get Justine home, and an online petition has garnered more than 1,100 signatures urging members of Parliament to fight for her return.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said Canadian officials have been in contact with authorities and are providing consular assistance.

"Our thoughts are with the family of the Canadian Citizen who passed away in Cuba,” reads the statement, released to CTV News.

Six weeks after her son’s death, Justine remains in Cuba, unable to leave. Stranded, afraid and alone as she mourns her child in a foreign land. Her chance to say goodbye to Cameron comes on Saturday. Will she be there? How much more can she take?

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