Tourist Dies Outside CIMA Hospital As Taxista Couldn’t Make Change

Dutch visitor wasn’t carrying any bills smaller than 10,000 colones

Customer's responsibility to have exact change, taxista says

Customer’s responsibility to have exact change, taxista says

ESCAZU – A Dutch tourist died outside CIMA hospital yesterday when his taxi driver was unable to make correct change for a 10,000 colones bill.

Niels Van Vliet, 56, was rushed to the hospital by taxi after experiencing chest pains during a mountain bike excursion in the Central Valley with his tour group. Biking in the hills of nearby Escazú, the tour was not far from the hospital when the incident occurred. Not wanting to take any chances, Van Vliet’s excursion members quickly hailed a street taxi.

Not suspecting his condition to be serious, Van Vliet refused to leave the taxi until given proper change for his bill equivalent to U.S. $20. The taxista then suggested going to a nearby POPS ice cream store to ask for change. On the way back, Van Vliet’s condition worsened.

“We went to POPS, like I do every time in this situation,” said the taxista, whose name has been withheld pending an OIJ investigation. “On the way back, he just collapsed in the back seat while eating ice cream. There was nothing I could do.”

The taxi carried on to the hospital where immediate emergency attention was given. CIMA doctors pronounced Van Vliet dead on arrival.

Other taxistas, while expressing remorse for Van Vliet’s passing, say that making change for 10,000 colones is like “working at Banco Nacional.”

“You can’t expect us to drive around with that kind of money,” said Heredia taxista Diego Martinez. “What do you think we are, pipis? Who drives around with change for all that plata?”

Van Vliet’s official cause of death is awaiting a coronary inspection. Initial reports suggest that Van Vliet suffered a heart attack as a result of elevated blood pressure due to the stress caused by the taxista and a diet that consisted of excessive cilantro.

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