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Less than a month after Texas resident Sam Karadsheh drowned off the beach at Jaco, Costa Rica -- pulled out to sea by one of Costa Rica's treacherous riptides -- a Rhode Island police officer has gone missing from the same beach. Mr. Karadsheh was at least the third such drowning at Jaco in less than 10 days.
With 800 miles of coastline and some of the worst riptides in the region, 50-60 “tourist drownings” occur every year throughout the country, Costa Rica’s Public Security Ministry reports. Consistent with the ministry's data, I have been told but not been able to confirm that, in the weeks since Mr. Karadsheh's death, 8 riptide-related drownings have taken place in Costa Rica.
Nevertheless, few beaches in the country have lifeguards or any other serious water-safety infrastructure. Of the 600 lifeguards registered in Costa Rica, only about 130 are actively working, according to Luis Hidalgo, president of the National Lifeguard Association of Costa Rica.