A screenshot of the moment Skylar Mack,18, was escorted to a police car after pleading guilty. Cayman Compass / ABC 7 News
A college student from Georgia has been sentenced to four months in a Cayman Islands prison after she broke a strict 14-day quarantine rule to attend her boyfriend’s jet-skiing competition.
Skylar Mack, a pre-med student, was supposed to undergo a government-mandated quarantine period upon her arrival on November 27.
However, she broke her isolation two days later when her boyfriend picked her up to attend the event he was participating in.
Both Mack and her boyfriend pleaded guilty to breaking quarantine on Tuesday and are serving their time in prison on an island. Their lawyers said they’re looking to appeal the sentence.
Mack’s family have acknowledged she’s made a mistake, but believe her prison sentence is too harsh and that she is being made an example of.
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A college student from Georgia is facing four months in prison in the Cayman Islands after she broke a strict 14-day quarantine rule to attend her boyfriend’s jet-skiing competition.
Skylar Mack, a pre-med student at Mercer University, arrived on the British Overseas Territory on November 27, where she was supposed to undergo a government-mandated quarantine period lasting 14 days.
But, Mack – who according to her family tested negative for the coronavirus after taking a test on arrival – broke her isolation two days later when her boyfriend picked her up to attend a jet-skiing competition he was participating in.
“In her mind, as long as she stayed away from everybody, she would be OK to go watch her friend’s race, it was their big national finals race, the last race of the year, big deal,” Mack’s grandmother, Jeanne, told CNN on Friday.
During the competition, Mack was recognized by some of the attendees, who then reported her breach of isolation to local officials.
The student and her 24-year-old boyfriend, Vanjar Remgeet, who lives in the Cayman Islands, were both arrested at the scene.
On Tuesday, they both pleaded guilty to breaking quarantine and were immediately brought to prison, where they are being held in the general population.
‘She cries every time she calls home’
According to her grandmother, the student acknowledged in court that she had “screwed up,” CNN reported.
But the teenager, who is allowed to call her family from prison daily, is still said to be struggling with her new reality. “She cries every time she calls home. She hasn’t been able to eat since they put her in prison,” her grandmother said, according to CNN.
“I truly believe she needed to get in trouble, because she did something wrong. I don’t believe she needed to go to prison for four months for one breach,” she added.
According to the family, the US Embassy in the Cayman Islands told them Mack is being made an example of.
“She did wrong. We’re not doubting what she did wrong. I just don’t think the punishment meets that,” Mack’s grandmother said.
On Friday, the governor of the Cayman Islands, Martyn Roper, issued a video statement saying everyone has an “individual and collective responsibility” to control the virus.
“I particularly appeal to all travelers coming back to the islands – please comply fully with the guidance and the advice that you’re getting,” Roper added.
According to the Cayman Islands’ COVID-19 regulations, a “person who contravenes this regulation [quarantine] commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment for two years.”
The couple’s lawyers are looking to appeal their sentence
The couple’s attorney, Jonathon Hughes, told the Associated Press on Thursday that he will argue for a less severe sentence next week.
“They’re two young people who have never been in trouble before,” he said, according to the AP. “This is the first time they’ve had interaction with police, the courts, prison.”
Hughes also said Mack’s family was “worried” for the teenager because “she’s in prison in a foreign country on her own.”
“While this is something she brought on herself, it’s very distressing for her,” Hughes added.
Since the pandemic began, the Cayman Islands have reported 311 cases and two deaths, according to a tracker on their government website.
Most social distancing efforts have been relaxed for the time being, but masks are still required on public transit and in airports.
In October, the territory announced that anyone making at least $100,00 a year can live and work there, according to a CNBC report.
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