Former resident stranded in Brazil

Nara Straw is still waiting to return to Vernon after being involved in a bus crash in Brazil last year

Friday, October 31, 2003 (A7)
Morning Star Writer - http://www.vernonmorningstar.com

A former Vernon resident's five year odessy to travel the globe has become bogged down in a Brazilian legal battle.
Nara Straw left his Vernon home in February 1998, visiting more than 20 countries on five continents before arriving in Brazil late last year. On Dec. 14, 2002 while in Brazil, Straw was one of 24 passengers on a bus which collided head-on with a dump truck, leaving two dead and several more suffering serious Injuries.

"People were panicking and climbing out the win­dow. I followed them down the tailgate of a sideways dump truck into the sand it had been transporting and past a body lying dead still on the ground," said Straw in a letter to his father in Vernon shortly after the crash.

The 25-year-old suffered a broken jaw and lost two teeth in the crash, leaving him in need of extensive den­tal surgery and orthodontic treatments. But Straw's recovery has been put on hold until the matter could be resolved in the Brazilian courts. And Straw has been advised by his lawyer not to leave the country until a settlement is reached.

"It's been very frustrating. It's almost like he's a prisoner," said Nara's father Dave Straw. "Because he's so far away and the legal system is so different, it's hard to know what a person can do."

Straw said the bus company had initially agreed to pay for his son's treatment and expenses as well as damages. But he said the payments to Nara soon stopped, and the company reported him to immigra­tion officials for overstaying the six-month term on his VIsa.

Although Straw's lawyer had his visa extended, the company is still using his illegal overstay in Brazil as its primary defence in the court case. The next court date is set for mid-November.

"He's doing all right, but it's a long, slow process," said Straw, who hopes to have his son back home in Vernon by Christmas.
"That would be a great Christmas present, seeing as I haven't seen him in quite a few years."

Straw is hoping to get as much support as possible from the community, and urges residents to contact their MP, the Canadian consulate in Brazil and officials with the Brazilian government.