Vacation in Dominican Republic becomes a nightmare for Waconia family

A dream vacation to the Dominican Republic turned into a nightmare for a Waconia family.

Since August, Tami and Patrick Corrigan had planned to stay in a beautiful resort along the water in Puerto Plata. The big trip was an early high school graduation gift for Tami's son Nick.

Instead, they found themselves caught in what they believe was a scam for money on unsuspecting tourists.

“Never made it, we were an hour into our drive,” said Tami.

The best memories they have are the views from the plane when they flew in on Saturday. To save money, they flew into Punta Cana, rented a car, and set out for a five-hour drive across the Dominican. Then out of the dark, a shadow appeared on the road.

“She yells ‘I think it's a body’ - I'm seeing the same thing, I hit my brakes and hit it and go to the side of the road,” said Patrick.

Patrick wound up in jail for two nights, accused of striking a motorcyclist, though they didn't see a bike. They weren’t getting many answers from the officials, making the situation all the more confusing.

“I asked if I could stay with him and they said ‘no, it could only be him’ and I really thought when I left him that night that I'd never see him again,” said Tami. “I thought that he would be killed and that it would all be covered up.”

“I legitimately thought that we would be stuck there,” said Nick. “I was afraid we wouldn't be able to get home eventually.”

“I think they were just trying to get more money, more money,” said Patrick.

Patrick finally had a court appearance on Monday. Tami had to pay $1,500 to an attorney to get Patrick released. But even the exchange with the lawyer felt fishy with just the two of them in a parked car, while the lawyer divvied up the money.

“And then [the lawyer] started putting it in - some in this pocket, some in that pocket, she took an envelope out of her purse, she stuck some in the envelope, she folded some up and stuck the rest in her purse,” said Tami.

The U.S. Embassy came to get them Tuesday morning and whisked them out of the tiny town they'd been stuck in. At that point, the family just wanted to get home before they got stuck there.

“You're coming with us to the airport, we're getting you on the first flight onto US soil,” said Tami.

The Corrigans don't want to discourage anyone from going on vacation or seeing the world, but their advice is it's best to stick to the resort shuttles to and from the airports in certain countries. Last year, a similar story happened to an Oregon couple, who got stuck there for months.

The Corrigan family will be getting a full refund from the resort.