Surfers from around the world have honoured Australians Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, who were killed in Mexico in what authorities say was a robbery gone wrong, with ‘paddle outs‘ — a tribute in which participants paddle out into the water on their surfboards and join hands in a circle. Thousands took part in several countries including Australia, Mexico and the United States on 13 December 2015.
This followed the discovery of two bodies with bullet wounds in their burnt-out van in Sinaloa state on the northwest coast of Mexico. Later testing confirmed they were the bodies of surfers Coleman and Lucas.
The surfer community in Mexico was shocked by the news. Global Voices partner Sin Embargo tweeted:
— Sin Embargo (@SinEmbargoMX) December 14, 2015
Surfers in Mexican beaches make a tribute to the Australian tourists murdered in Sinaloa
Local online media Sinaloa en Linea also posted this video, ‘Surfers show human side of Mexico’ showing the commemoration:
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have helped to bring people together at this difficult time.
Josie Cox, Dean Lucas’ girlfriend, posted this request to Facebook on 12 December in an effort to collect all the tributes:
PLEASE SHARE THE HASHTAG on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so friends and family can collate the photos of the paddle outs from around the world.
By all means take videos and pics and share and send to us and use the hashtag!
Thank u all! X
Mexico's FEDERACIÓN MEXICANA DE SURFING (National Federation of Surfing) has used the #adamanddean hashtag on their Facebook page to publicise and document the initiative.
La Federación Mexicana de Surfing y la Asociación de Surfing del Estado de Sinaloa, invitan a toda la comunidad Surfer local y a la comunidad de Mazatlán a unirse en el “Memorial Paddle” que se llevara a cabo el próximo Domingo 13 de Diciembre en Playa El Camarón a las 10:30 AM. Demostremos nuestra Solidaridad a las Familias de los surfers Australianos Dean y Adam
The Mexican Surfing Federation and the association of surfing of the state of Sinaloa invite everyone in the local surfer community and the community of Mazatlán to join the “Memorial Paddle” that will take place on Sunday 13 December at El Camarón beach at 10:30 am. Let us show our solidarity to the families of the Australian surfers Dean and Adam
Janet Blaser, publisher of Mazatlan's M! Magazine, has a memorial photo album on Facebook.
Surf Sessions Clasico Mazatlan uploaded this image to Facebook to pay respect to their families. “This was the Surfer Mazatlan community's response following the terrible events of last month when two travelling Australian surfers were deprived of their lives,” the message accompanying the photo read:
Others offered their condolences on Twitter:
— Kate Ferguson (@_KateFerguson_) December 15, 2015
‘Like a Bermuda Triangle’
Crimes in the the state of Sinaloa are unfortunately not uncommon as it is nationally and internationally known for being the birthplace of major drug dealers and the narco-culture in Mexico.
Five suspects have reportedly been arrested. Sin Embargo published on December 13:
Una de las líneas de investigación indica que los australianos hicieron una parada en un falso retén, donde sujetos vestidos como policías los intentaron asaltar, al oponerse, uno de los dos turistas fue herido de bala. Los agresores refieren que los llevaron a un paraje donde los asesinaron y quemaron el vehículo donde se trasladaban.
One of the lines of investigation indicates that the Australians made a stop at a fake police checkpoint, where men disguised as police tried to assault them. When they resisted, one of the two tourists was shot in the head. The attackers said they then took them to another place and murdered them and burned their vehicle.
In a later article, Sin Embargo quoted the local mayor:
El Edil señaló que no se necesita ser investigador para reconocer que en esa parte, en la carretera de cuota, hay un grupo dedicado a los asaltos carreteros, robo de vehículos y hasta de combustible de Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
“Ese espacio es como un Triángulo de las Bermudas donde suceden hechos delincuenciales con bastante frecuencia…
The mayor said you don’t need to be an investigator to recognize that on this part of the toll highway, there’s a gang that assaults travellers, steal cars and even robs gasoline from Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex).
“This space is like a Bermuda Triangle where many crimes are committed frequently…”
Political analyst Alejandro Sicairos raised concerns in an interview with Noticiero Noroeste (Northwest News) about authorities lack of action against those with ill will using the highway:
Existe una negligencia criminal. Abandonaron esta zona, sabiendo que es tan peligrosa. Sabiendo que implica riesgos para los sinaloenses y los visitantes.
(…) Nunca se ve un operativo, que haya una advertencia en la caseta de cobro para que quienes transitan por ahí tomen sus precauciones.
There is criminal negligence. They [authorities] abandoned the zone knowing that it is very dangerous. Knowing that it’s risky for the locals and visitors.
You never see an operation or a warning at the toll booth for those who are transiting the road so they can be cautious.
He also mentioned that the gangs operating in the zone are actually hitmen that once were part of the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel.
With sarcasm, ‘passionate’ Mexican Twitter user Isabelle commented on the arrest of the alleged killers:
Atrapan a los que mataron a los surfistas australianos…eran ladrones de carros Ya luego nos explican por qué no les robaron el carro
— Isabelle (@isabellemexico) December 7, 2015
They caught those who murdered the Australian surfers… they were car thieves. Later they’ll explain why their car wasn’t stolen.
‘Connecting on a global level’
Over 40 photos and videos have been posted on Instagram hashtag #adamanddean.
Hazeyhayes left a personal tribute on the English coast:
Connecting on a global level for Adam and Dean. My small contribution at Scarborough North Bay, England, UK. Miss and love you so much. My thoughts are with the Lucas and Coleman families, All that knew Adam and Dean, Andrea and especially @josiecox All my love to you!! #AdamAndDean #rememberadamanddean #love @adziecolezie
There was even a dry land tribute with skateboarders:
A photo posted by Sk8topia (@sk8topia) on
A tweet from Leah Andy, ‘Mother of a Future Mermaid’, expressed what the global surfing community was feeling:
— Leah Andy (@LeahAndyAndy) December 15, 2015