Grandmother: US college student jailed in Cayman Islands over quarantine is ‘pretty hysterical’
The grandmother of a U.S. college student who is being jailed in the Cayman Islands for violating the island’s quarantine rules, said the student is “pretty hysterical.”
Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old pre-med student at Mercer University, was sentenced to four months in jail for not adhering to the mandatory 14-day COVID-19 isolation period for visitors to the island, NBC’s “Today” show reported.
She and her boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, a 24-year-old Cayman Islands resident, were charged and are the first to be sentenced under the more severe punishments in the British territory instituted the day before their violation.
“She cries. She wants to come home,” Mack’s grandmother Jeanne Mack told “Today.”
“She knows she made a mistake,” she added. “She owns up to that, but she’s pretty hysterical right now.”
Jonathan Hughes, the attorney for the couple, told “Today” that the college student arrived in the Cayman Islands on Nov. 27 to visit Ramgeet. She tested negative for the virus before leaving and when arriving on the island.
Two days after her arrival, the couple attended a jet ski event in which Ramgeet competed, and Skylar Mack left her electronic monitoring device at home.
At first, she and Ramgeet were sentenced to 40 hours of community service and a $2,600 fine after they pleaded guilty to disobeying the COVID-19 restrictions. But a prosecutor pushed for and obtained a harsher sentence, asserting that a lesser sentence would not deter others from repeating their mistakes.
Hughes plans to argue for a lesser sentence, saying, “The court ought to have considered the individual before it, not just the crime.”
Judge Roger Chapple said during the sentencing earlier this month that the couple’s choices came out of “selfishness and arrogance,” as police said Mack was at the event for seven hours while not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing, the Cayman Compass reported.
The day before the jet ski event, the sentencing for COVID-19 breaches increased from up to one year in jail to up to two years and from a fine of up to $1,000 to up to $10,000.
Mack’s grandmother said she wrote a letter to President Trump requesting help in getting Mack returned to the U.S., according to “Today.”
The Cayman Islands has reported 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two deaths during the pandemic.