Family and friends mourning loss of Sangudo man who drowned in Costa Rica

EDMONTON- Family and friends are mourning the loss of a Sangudo man who drowned in Costa Rica just over a week ago. Thirty-eight-year-old Curt Chase and his wife Kathalean were on a holiday in Jaco, Costa Rica when it happened.

Kathalean says she and her husband were out for an evening swim on Thursday, March 28 when a strong wave swept them off their feet.

“I think he panicked, and he screamed out to me ‘swim baby!’ and he pushed me by my heels, forward, and that was the last I saw of him,” Kathalean said over the phone from Costa Rica Saturday.

Kathalean says she was able to make her way out of the water, but Curt was not.

“I expected him to be behind me and he wasn’t and I just started screaming.”

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She says she ran back to her hotel where staff members called 911, and crews quickly arrived to begin searching for Curt.

“I think I knew by the time they were searching it was already too late,” Kathalean said. “It was surreal to me. It felt like a bad dream.”

The search for Curt was called off Thursday night. Kathalean says on Friday, she went down to the beach with flowers to say goodbye to her husband of eight years.

“I said ‘as soon as I put these flowers in the water, he’s going to show up.’ And the moment, pretty much the moment those flowers hit the water, surfers found his body,” she explained. “I stood there while they were bringing him in.”

Kathalean has been in San Jose, Costa Rica for the past nine days while arrangements are made to bring Curt’s body back to Canada. She says it’s been an incredibly overwhelming experience.

“I can’t look at pictures of him without breaking down crying.”

At home in Sangudo, friends of the couple are worried about Kathalean.

“She’s being strong on the outside, but I’m sure when she gets back here it will sink in,” said Daniel Walters who has known the couple for four years.

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Daniel says a group of friends are coming together to raise funds to help Kathalean with funeral costs and other expenses.

“We need to get (her) some help now,” Daniel said holding back tears. “It’s what (Curt) would want all of us to do.”

Meanwhile, they’re all trying to process the loss of a dear friend and husband.

“Just… a nice guy. I can’t think of anybody that would say a single bad thing about him,” Daniel said.

“There were a lot of people that considered him their best friend,” Kathalean said. “He had a great sense of humour. He was just wonderful.”

The Canadian Embassy has confirmed it is providing consular aid to the family of a Canadian man who passed away in Costa Rica. Officials say they’ve also been in contact with local authorities in Costa Rica.

Kathalean says she hopes to be home sometime next week.

With files from Jenna Bridges.