Widow of TX Firefighter Who Died on Vacation Files Suit

July 7, 2022
The widow of Arlington firefighter Elijah Snow is suing the travel agency for their alleged responsibility in his death at a hotel in Mexico.

The family of an Arlington firefighter, who had traveled to Mexico with his wife for an anniversary trip last summer and was later found dead near their resort, is suing a local travel agency and the hotel where they stayed.

Jamie Lynn Snow is suing Let’s Go On Vacay LLC, a Texas travel agency, as well as RCM Hotel, Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts Inc. and Sunwing Travel Group for their alleged responsibility in the death of her husband, Elijah.

Snow alleges that the defendants were negligent, including withholding safety information about crime in Cancun, and that the resort had inadequate security measures and had overserved guests alcohol, disregarding their safety.

Representatives for the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.

The trip

The couple traveled to Mexico last July to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary, according to the lawsuit. The couple used Let’s Go on Vacay as a travel agent, which had arranged their hotels and resorts in Cancun.

Early on July 18, 2021, the pair arrived at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and were ready for their trip. After boarding their flight, Elijah realized he forgot his cellphone in the couple’s car and decided to continue on the trip without it.

The couple arrived at their all-inclusive hotel, the Royalton Chic Cancun, which is owned by Blue Diamond Hotels and Resorts Inc. and Sunwing. Upon their arrival, around 10 a.m., the lawsuit says, the Snows were given plastic bracelets that gave them hotel access, including unlimited alcoholic drinks.

“The Snows were then directed to a pool located in the Diamond Club area. During this time, the Snows socialized with other tourists, many of which were from Texas, and began drinking alcoholic beverages served to them by the pool bar,” the lawsuit read, adding that guests were encouraged to “consume hard liquor shots that were handed out at will without regard to guest safety” by bartenders, and the employees encouraged guests to “become extremely intoxicated.”

The couple continued drinking before having access to their room at 4 p.m. After retreating to their room, the Snows continued to drink at the pool and during their dinner at a local restaurant on the resort.

“At approximately 8:40 p.m., Jamie told Elijah that she was tired from the early morning travel and was going to head up to their hotel room,” the lawsuit read. “Elijah stated that he was going to finish his drink and then return to their room. This was not unusual because Elijah, who was employed as a firefighter, was used to being awake for long hours. Jamie was exhausted from the long day of travel. She took an elevator up to their room and went to sleep.”

Hotel video footage showed that minutes after Jamie left the bar, her husband followed suit.

“Jamie had been waiting several moments for an empty elevator to arrive. From his vantage point, Elijah could see elevator doors just closing on the elevator car that his wife was in,” the lawsuit said. “From Jamie’s vantage point, she could not see that Elijah is walking into the elevator bank just as the same doors close on the elevator carriage. Video footage clearly shows Elijah, who appears to be intoxicated, stumbling through the elevator bank pressing the elevator call buttons.”

When the elevator didn’t immediately open, video footage showed Elijah walking toward a circular stairwell.

“This is the last video surveillance in which Elijah is seen alive. Incredibly, even with all of the surveillance cameras positioned throughout the hotel, no other video of Elijah was located or provided to the Cancun Police Department, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, the United State Consulate’s Office or, most importantly, to his now widow, Jamie,” the lawsuit said. “No video has ever been provided showing Elijah leaving the property or walking through the lobby areas of the hotel.”

Jamie went on to her hotel room and fell asleep. Around 3:30 a.m., she woke up and saw her husband had never returned, causing her to search “frantically” for him, according to the lawsuit.

By 5 a.m., she was reaching out to hotel staff that she couldn’t find her husband and needed help, but they replied that they couldn’t locate him and “if he [didn’t] show up later in the morning please come down to guest services.”

For several hours, staff refused to help Jamie find her husband, she said. At 8:30 a.m., a hotel manager asked Jamie to return to her room. Jamie, who was in contact with staff through WhatsApp, continued to ask employees if they could contact local jails to see if Elijah might be there. She forwarded photos of her husband and what he was wearing, and an employee responded that someone would “guide him to the room,” followed by messages that she should stay in her room and asking if she wanted breakfast, the suit says.

“Jamie just wanted to know if her husband was alive. The concierge replied, ‘we are working on that.’ Even more perplexing is that even though the hotel invested in RFID bracelets to charge alcoholic beverages to patrons and limit access to their hotel rooms, they failed to use that same technology to locate a missing and possibly dying person,” the lawsuit said. “Even more shocking is that during the delay, it is likely that Elijah was only yards away from Jamie gasping his last breath.”

Finding Elijah

Around 10 a.m., Jamie was taken into a small room to call the police. She was taken to the nearby police station about 30 minutes later, where police officers told Snow that Elijah had “fallen through a window in a theater.”

“After learning her husband was dead, Jamie was in shock. She returned to the hotel where she remained in her room alone for approximately two hours. The same hotel employee who acted as a translator accompanied Jamie to a second police location to identify Elijah’s body,” the lawsuit said. “On this trip, the employee informed Jamie that the theater was an open-air theater space immediately adjacent and only feet away from the Royalton Chic Cancun at another hotel named The Sunset Royal Hotel.”

Jamie was shown a photo of her husband’s face on a monitor, and when she asked if she could see his body, she was denied, the suit says.

“Eventually, an officer agreed to show Jamie some pictures of Elijah’s body that had been taken at a distance. This was done in a likely attempt to prevent Jamie from scrutinizing any detail of Elijah’s corpse,” the lawsuit said, adding that Jamie was allowed to take a picture of the photo she was shown for $100.

Jamie ended up paying $600 for five photos of her husband, and was soon told his death was a “murder without suspect,” according to the filing.

After paying an additional $300, Jamie was given more crime scene photos, including some that showed Elijah had bruising on the front and back of his head, alongside multiple injuries on Elijah’s back and legs. Elijah also had scratches and bruises on his forehead, cheeks, hands and arms.

“The injuries she saw did not appear to be consistent with someone who had accidentally become lodged in a window only two feet off the ground. Further, crime scene photos provided after his death showed Eljiah’s face to be covered with dirt and mud as if he had been dragged,” the lawsuit said.

Wrongful death, negligence

When Elijah’s body was found, several hundred dollars were missing from his wallet, the suit says. The Snow family believes Elijah was kidnapped, robbed and killed.

The family believes they were misled about the safety of the area, including being told that Cancun was safer than areas like Paris, France and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Further investigation revealed that the local police department reported nearly 5,500 violent crimes in 2021, including nearly 4,000 assaults, 15 kidnappings and about 1,500 murders, the suit says.

“Let’s Go on Vacay, LLC had a duty to warn the Snows, and its customers, of known, foreseeable dangers in light of its superior knowledge of local conditions of the dangerous criminal environment in Cancun, Mexico,” the lawsuit said. “Had the Snows known of the likely dangers of traveling to Cancun, the Snows would have not traveled to the region. By failing to warn the Snows, Let’s Go on Vacay, LLC breached its duty and thus, approximately caused the damages to plaintiffs including the wrongful death of Elijah.”

The Snows also say the hotel was negligent by overserving customers alcohol, failing to maintain adequate security cameras and guards, failing to ensure proper basic physical security to prevent injury to a guest, failing to post signs to warn guests they were leaving the hotel premises and failing to notify the police in a timely manner to find Elijah.

In the suit filed in Tarrant County district court, Jamie Snow and her children are seeking over $1 million in monetary relief for loss of inheritance, mental anguish and past and future loss of companionship.

©2022 Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit star-telegram.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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