Organizer of Sunwing trip is back in Montreal -- and got ticketed for breaking curfew
After a nearly three-week saga, the organizer of the ill-fated Sunwing trip to Mexico is back in Quebec -- and was ticketed on his way from the border, since he drove into Canada after the start of the 10 p.m. curfew Sunday night.
People who participated in the trip were shunned by three Canadian airlines operating along the Cancun-Montreal route.
But James William Awad told CTV News that he decided to drive across the border instead of flying to escape unwanted attention.
“I was just trying to escape from journalists waiting for me at the airport," he wrote in a message late Monday.
"That’s why I went from New York to Montreal in a U-Haul."
He said he got stopped by police around 2:30 a.m., which was "two hours before the end of curfew."
Sunday night's curfew was the last one, for now, as the government announced last week it would lift the rule as of Monday.
"I don't believe that ticket is valid," said Awad. "But we'll see."
Quebec provincial police said that around 3 a.m., officers from the detachment in Napierville did respond to an infraction of a public health rule by three men.
Napierville is a small town just north of Lacolle, the border crossing that connects New York City with Montreal along the heavily travelled I-87 highway.
The men were ticketed for $1,500 each because "they were in a car on Highway 15 in St-Bernard-de-Lacolle... outside of their home without a reason," said the police spokesperson, Audrey-Anne Bilodeau.
"This was prohibited because of curfew," she said.
Bilodeau said she couldn't provide the men's names since they haven't been charged with anything, only fined.
The trip, planned for a group of over 100 Quebec reality TV stars and social media influencers, made headlines earlier this month after videos came to light showing them partying maskless on the flight and when one passenger later said some of them had faked their COVID-19 tests.
Legal consequences appear to be on the way for some of the trip's passengers after Health Canada and other authorities have begun to send files to Quebec prosecutors over various alleged violations.
There have also been more personal consequences for at least one participant. Pierre Seklaoui, a realtor who had been working for RE/MAX Quebec, was fired, the company told CTV News.
"After evaluating the situation surrounding Mr. Pierre Seklaoui's recent actions, his agency, in agreement with the RE/MAX Québec franchisor, has decided to terminate Mr. Seklaoui's contract, effective January 7, 2022," wrote RE/MAX spokesperson Marie-Eve Gélinas in a statement.
"Obviously... we dissociate ourselves and deplore these behaviours which go against the values conveyed by our network."
Seklaoui is the most recent of several people to lose their jobs after their link to the trip became publicly known, including one other realtor.