OREM — Lying face-down on the ground in a Guatemalan jungle with his hands tied behind his back, death seemed imminent to Joseph Allen.
Moments earlier, Allen and a group of 12 tourists traveling with him had witnessed the shooting death of a member of their party, a 52-year-old Ogden architect, Brett Richards.
He was killed by armed bandits who forced the tour bus off the road, then stole jewelry, luggage and electronic equipment from passengers.
Allen, 69, had been hit in the face by one of the robbers and the bus driver had been shot.
"I thought we might all be killed because (the robbers) had already killed," Allen recalled in an interview with the Deseret Morning News. He feared the gunmen might kill all the witnesses to the crime
Since the gunmen had already killed one person, he thought, they might kill all of the witnesses to the crime, too.
To his surprise, the robbers fled without injuring any other tourists with the group.
In that instant, though, he knew his world had been forever changed.
"At some point during that first night," Allen recalls, "I was probably convinced that I'd never take another tour, that I'd never step foot on Guatemalan soil again. It was that dramatic."
With another tour group scheduled to arrive the following day, a shaken Allen considered ending his tours altogether.
After consulting with local authorities, local members of the LDS Church in Guatemala, and his two sons, Blake and Todd, who also lead tours for the company, Allen made a decision.
"Finally, what came to me was, I wasn't going to let five robbers destroy what we had been doing for 40 years," he says. "Those who would determine if we'd take more tours or not was the people themselves. If people don't go, we don't have a business anyway. If it had been an act of war or an act of terrorism, it would have been different. There are thousands of cars a day that go on that road. It was a random thing. I had to wrestle with that."
Since Richards' death Allen has guided seven tours through Mesoamerica. He remained in Central America for six weeks to accommodate those tours, and he did not return to his Orem home until last month.
One group canceled a tour scheduled to leave this month and is attempting to get its non-refundable deposit back, Allen says.
In response to the Richards incident, Allen's company has increased its security measures. Now, armed Guatemalan policemen accompany Allen's groups to various locations around the country.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the attack, which occurred outside Colomba, 120 miles west of Guatemala City.
Henry Geovanny Vicente Gabriel, 27, was taken into custody during a police raid at his home in the town of Nuevo San Carlos, 20 miles from the crime scene, according to the national police force.
Guatemalan police also have arrested Marvin Sebastian Verganza Ruiz, 29, and found items that could be linked to the robbery.