The family of the Penticton man shot in the thigh while vacationing in Mexico are trying to find a way to get him back to the Okanagan.
“There are people offering to pay for flights back, but we really want a direct flight back so they don’t have to stop in Vancouver then take another plane. We were hoping to get some kind of private jet or at least have a direct flight here. That is our goal right now, to make him the most comfortable,” said the man’s daughter Lisa Di Lorenzo-Biggs.
The family has been speaking with Okanagan Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day and looking at options with the BC Ambulance Service to see if their special operations paramedics have the authority to travel that far.
Mike Di Lorenzo was with his wife Serafina Di Lorenzo walking to a market on Monday near the hotel they were staying at while on vacation in Mazatlan when he was hit with a stray bullet. Mexican police officials said the gunmen were targeting a man on a motorcycle. Another bystander was also injured and the man on the motorcycle was killed. It is believed the hit on the man on the motorcycle has to do with the ongoing drug war in that country.
The 69-year-old retired painter, who once ran Mike’s Painting and Decorating, pushed his wife to the ground as he heard the gunshots. While falling on top of her, he was shot in the upper thigh. Mexican news reports said an AK-47 was used in the shooting and more than 50 shell casings were found at the crime scene. Di Lorenzo is now resting in a Mexican hospital, has two steel pins in his leg and underwent blood transfusions on Wednesday.
“He is actually getting a bit of a reaction from the transfusion so they are concerned, but it’s not really uncommon I guess,” said Di Lorenzo-Biggs, adding they had hoped to get him home on Monday or Tuesday but now with the complications they are unsure of that.
Day said he has spoken with Di Lorenzo since he has been in the hospital and is ensuring Foreign Affairs and the consular is doing everything they can. He added he is “pushing hard to make sure everything that can be done, is done.”
Foreign Affairs Canada warns Canadians travelling to Mexico to exercise a high degree of caution. They said armed clashes between security forces and drug groups are commonplace in certain areas and travellers could get caught in the crossfire. Still, the Di Lorenzos have not shown any sour feelings towards the country they frequently visit as a vacation destination. Di Lorenzo-Biggs said her parents have been visiting Mexico for years and are still considering buying property there.
Scrolling through family photos on the computer, Di Lorenzo-Biggs said she knows one thing for sure.
“It’s so awful and you don’t realize until something like this happens, but you find that you are lacking photos of your family all together. For sure one of the first things we are doing — my sister and I were talking about how we need to get a family portrait as soon as they get back and healthy. This was a life-altering thing and you just gain more appreciation for your family,” she said.