Costa Rican earthquake ruins honeymoon for Farragut newlyweds

Costa Rican earthquake ruins honeymoon for Farragut newlyweds

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Bradley and Kaylah Cooch (source: family) Bradley and Kaylah Cooch (source: family)
The earthquake damaged the Hotel Riu Guanacaste. (source: family) The earthquake damaged the Hotel Riu Guanacaste. (source: family)
Rooms were damaged as well. (source: family) Rooms were damaged as well. (source: family)

6 News Anchor/Reporter

FARRAGUT (WATE) - A honeymoon is supposed to be a dream vacation, relaxing with your new spouse in an exotic place after all the wedding hoopla.

But that was hardly the case for a Farragut couple who had just arrived in Costa Rica when a 7.6 magnitude earthquake Wednesday morning rocked their hotel.

Kaylah and Bradley Cooch were at the Hotel Riu Guanacaste in the elevator when the earthquake hit.

"It dropped and then started shaking violently. When the doors opened, bricks and sheet rock were falling and people were running and screaming," Kaylah said.

The hotel guests were evacuated to a mountain top until a tsunami warning passed.

"When we got back to our room, there was glass and sheet rock all over the place. Everything was thrown around. The lamps were on the ground," Kaylah said.

Their honeymoon suite was on the top floor and too unstable, so the hotel gave them a different room on the ground floor.

"When we got there, it was roped off with caution tape, even though they said it was safe. There was sheet rock all over the bed and the door was crumbling from the ceiling," Kaylah said.

The newlyweds opted to sleep in the open air lobby on beach chairs.

"At about 3:00 a.m. there was another tremor. I don't care that it's my honeymoon, I just want to go home," Kaylah said.

Kaylah's mother, Kim Badeaux, bought the couple one-way tickets home on the first flight they could get, at a cost of more than $1,000. She also called their trip insurance company, Travel Guard, about reimbursement.

"Their policy says you have to have a letter from the hotel stating there was structural damage, that it was unsafe or uninhabitable," Badeaux said.

So far, the hotel has refused to do that. "They felt like their hotel was fine, even though the walls were crumbling down," Badeaux said.

Right now, Badeaux is most concerned with getting her daughter and son-in-law home safely. But she's not giving up on getting back the money she thinks they deserve.

"You would think you would not have to fight to get money back in a natural disaster. It should be automatic," Badeaux said.

6 News contacted the Riu chain of hotels which said that despite the pictures, it's standing by its claim that there was no structural damage to the resort in Costa Rica.

The Cooch's travel agent contacted Travel Guard and a claim was started Thursday. The company said, "We are currently awaiting documentation to review the claim and will work through this process together with the Cooch family."

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