Americas & Beyond | January 2009
|Canadian Killed in Mexican Dune Buggy Accident|
Scott Taylor - The Ottawa Sun
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Ottawa - Family and friends of a 27-year-old Canadian woman are devastated after she died in a dune buggy crash in Mexico's Sierra de Vallejo mountains near Puerto Vallarta on Monday.
Christina Polifroni's boyfriend, Richard Deziel, was driving and lost control of the vehicle as he tried to turn on a narrow path while going up the volcanic mountain. The dune buggy plummeted down a 13-metre precipice.
Deziel survived, but is in hospital with serious head injuries.
Polifroni's sister, Ann MacDonnell, said Christina was a beautiful, vibrant person, who had many interests and friends.
"It's just so shocking, we really haven't accepted it yet," MacDonnell said, her voice barely above a whisper. "She was my older sister and she used to babysit me."
Polifroni had been a server at Minglewoods Tap & Grill in the Byward Market, a job she enjoyed because of the atmosphere and the people she came to know.
Her sister said she also had a passion for animals.
"She loved her horses and especially her two dogs. She loved them more than anything else in the world and she cared for them like they were her kids."
John MacDonnell, who was married to Polifroni's mother, Kim Bonas, said the loss is overwhelming.
"We're coping as well as we can, but it's been so extremely difficult over the past few days. There hasn't been much sleep. You can never prepare for something like this that happens to someone that age who is so beautiful. You think she's still around and then suddenly realize she isn't anymore."
He said collecting pictures for the funeral has stoked memories of who she was and of how many people loved her.
"She was simply an amazing person and so many people cared about her."
But even as her family mourned, Deziel was lying in a hospital bed in Mexico with armed guards stationed outside his door. He had been arrested as a result of the tragedy and it fell upon Polifroni's family to ask for a pardon to allow him to be released when he's able.
"They were going to take him straight to jail, but it was an accident," MacDonnell said. "You hear horror stories about Mexico and it does seem that you're guilty until proven innocent there."
He said the family was successful in obtaining a pardon.
The funeral will take place Monday at 2 p.m. at St. Martin's Church on Prince Charles Ave. MacDonnell said family and friends from across Canada will attend.
Numerous messages of sorrow and sympathy poured in on Polifroni's Facebook page next to her final message, which said: "Mexico, here I come!!!!"