The wife of a Winnipeg father of three who was killed while on vacation in Mexico last week says she’s now fighting for justice after two hotel employees were arrested in connection with his death.
Jesse Ropos died in the lobby of a resort in the gated community of Puerto Aventuras, where he and his wife were staying early Friday morning, just a few hours before they were scheduled to fly home.
Stacey Ropos tells Global News what was supposed to be a dream vacation for her and her 36-year-old husband turned into a nightmare after the couple went to a bar at their resort Thursday.
Ropos says she went to bed shortly before midnight, but Jesse decided to stay out a little longer, telling her he was going to have one more drink.
It was the last time Ropos would see her husband alive.
“I got woken up at 3 a.m. by hotel staff, saying that my husband was drunk in the lobby and that I was going to need to go get him,” Ropos told Global News this week.
“As I was approaching I saw all the police tape and a woman stopped me and said, ‘I just need to tell you that your husband’s dead.’
“I just ran over there and the police, of course were stopping me, and I was just screaming at him to get up.”
A Mexican police report, provided by Ropos and translated by Global News, says officers were called to the resort’s bar after a fight broke out between Ropos’ husband and another hotel guest.
The report says her husband died while being restrained by the bar manager and a security guard. The two men have since been arrested. They are considered innocent until proven guilty.
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Ropos says an autopsy found her husband died of asphyxiation.
“They strangled him so hard that they fractured his trachea,” she said. “So even if they really did try to do CPR, it probably wouldn’t have mattered, unfortunately.”
A spokesperson from Global Affairs Canada confirmed the death of a Canadian citizen in Mexico, but wouldn’t provide any further details.
Global News reached out to the resort, Catalonia Riviera Maya, but they declined to comment citing privacy reasons.
‘We just had that amazing love’
Ropos has since been working with a lawyer in Mexico, staying in the country until Tuesday to attend court proceedings and working to bring her husband’s body back home.
“I’m just trying to keep it together and keep my laser-focus going right now for to try and get justice for my husband,” she said in a video call with Global News Tuesday.
“I’m holding it together. But I’m sure the moment that I see our babies (I’m) probably going to have my breaking moment.”
The couple has three children, two sons aged 15 and 11, and an eight-year-old daughter, all of whom stayed in Winnipeg while the parents were on their trip.
Ropos says she and her husband ran a local flooring company together. She described him as hard working and full of life.
“He was a very loud, loud man. You could probably hear him talking from three rooms away,” she said with a laugh. “He had a gorgeous smile that just beamed whenever he was happy or laughing, which he always was.”
Jesse Ropos was originally from Kenora, Ont., but moved to Winnipeg where he met his wife 17 or 18 years ago.
“We just had that amazing love that (few) people get to have,” Ropos said.
“We had crazy times. We had funny times. We had tough times, too. I mean, we were together for 18 and a half years.
“He was just such a big man, was so, so, so full of life.”
Ropos is advising others travelling abroad to make sure they have “double, if not triple insurance” before they leave.
She said it has already cost more than US$10,000 to get her husband’s body ready to fly home, and her insurance has only covered $7,500.
An online fundraiser started by a friend to help the family with costs had raised more than $17,000 as of Wednesday.
“Even though you think you’re protected, you may not be,” she said.
“People need to know and justice needs to happen.”
— with files from Global’s Marney Blunt, Iris Dyck and Rosanna Hempel