American Cruiser Murdered in Guatemala

Four men wielding machetes attacked a retired U.S. couple aboard their sailboat in Guatemala Saturday, killing one tourist and seriously wounding his wife, according to a report by the Associated Press.

After demanding money, the assailants hacked Daniel Dryden, 66, to death, then stabbed Nancy Dryden, 67, which resulted in Mrs. Dryden sustaining a punctured lung. Mrs. Dryden is now in the hospital, but is expected to recover. Their boat, Sunday’s Child, was anchored in Lake Izabal, which is a popular tourist and cruiser venue near the Caribbean coast. Since the deep-jungle lake is 24 miles up the Rio Dolce from the Caribbean Sea, it is a popular and safe place for cruisers to wait out hurricanes. The Dryden’s were anchored near the Monkey Marina, not in some far-flung or seldom-visited area of the lake, making this attack all the more brazen.

“They wanted dollars, but we only had a few quetzales [Guatemalan currency] with us on the boat,” Dryden told the Associated Press. After the thieves left, allegedly by swimming, Dryden called for help on the boat’s radio.

The couple, from near Anchorage, Alaska, was originally preparing to make a voyage into the Caribbean then back to the U.S. east coast. Dryden had hoped to use her experience as a physical therapist to help children in Guatemala. Now, she says, she just wants to leave the country. “I have sympathy for the problems of the third world, but I don’t believe violence and thievery are the answer,” Dryden said.

Sadly, this isn’t the first attack to occur at Lake Izabal this year. In April, a similar incident occurred when a cruiser was reportedly beaten on the skull after four armed thieves boarded his boat, according to a piracy report issued on

Guatemalan police are looking for suspects, but as of Tuesday, August 12, they have yet to make any arrests.

Posted: August 15, 2008 by DS

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