GALION — When Shane Denoon went to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to help open a bar for his boss, his family did not realize the nightmare his trip would turn into.
The 1997 Galion High School graduate is in a Vietnamese prison because of a motorcycle crash he reportedly does not remember.
“He went there in January from Bangkok to open a bar for his boss,” said Stacy Shipley, Shane’s sister. “He woke up in a hospital with injuries from an accident that he does not remember. He was told by the local police that he was in an accident with someone who was riding a bicycle, and that person died.”
Shipley said the motorcycle her brother was riding is more like a scooter, or moped, than a motorcycle. She said Shane’s passport was taken from him by police while the crash was being investigated.
“When he was released from the hospital, he got a job in a town called Danau, which is a 22-hour bus ride away,” Shipley said.
Shipley said her brother worked with police, meeting with them several times over a six-month period.
“They told him since a woman died in the crash, he needed to pay her family money,” Shipley said.
Although Shane had been working with the police in Ho Chi Minh City for five to six months, they formally took him into custody June 15.
“We are so worried about him and want him to have a fair trial, but do not understand the laws over there,” Shipley said. “We are also worried about his injuries because his jaw was broken, but never set correctly, so it is hard for him to chew and talk.”
Shane, who once lived in New York City working as a window display designer, also lived in California before movingto Bangkok. His girlfriend, an art teacher, remains Bangkok.
“Shane never met a stranger and has friends all over the world,” Shipley said of her brother, who is a graduate of the Philadelphia Art Institute.
Shane’s parents, Sue and John Denoon, along with Shipley and a cousin, Heather Strange, are working with the American Consulate to obtain a Vietnamese attorney.
“We called both Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown’s offices, but Portman’s office has never responded after multiple phone calls,” Shipley said. “Sherrod Brown put us in touch with an international relations person and she has been very helpful and put us in touch with the American Consulate.”
Shane’s family has started a GoFundMe account to help pay for an attorney.
“The details of the incident are not clear. We have not received any official police reports, hospital reports or anything like that and have noticed several concerning discrepancies between the allegations and the immediate evidence,” Shipley said. “We just want to ensure he gets fair representation to investigate these discrepancies so that the truth comes to light.”
“We have no idea how much this will cost, but we need to get him the best legal representation we can,” Shipley said.
Other pages asking for support for Shane have been created on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.