After spending more than a month in a Cayman Islands prison for breaking quarantine rules, an American woman is back in the U.S. with her family.
And now, she hopes that her experience serves as a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic is still not over and that everyone should take quarantine measures seriously.
“It eats me up,” Skylar Mack told “Good Morning America.”
On Nov. 27, Mack arrived on the island and was supposed to quarantine for 14 days. But after just two days, she took off her geo-tracking wrist monitor, and breached quarantine with her 24-year-old boyfriend, Vanjae Ramgeet, a professional jet skier who was competing in a race.
The 18-year-old, who is a pre-med student, said that because she tested negative for COVID, she thought she was okay and said she would keep others safe by socially distancing on the beach where the competition took place.
“It was a conscious decision,” Mack said. “I can’t give you any good reason for it. … I had signed the paper.”
Mack and Ramgeet, who was charged for his role in the incident, were both detained, and initially ordered to pay a $2,600 fine and complete 40 hours of community service. But that sentence was later increased to two months of jail time. The couple both spent time behind bars during Christmas and New Year’s.
“He started it 15 months and I broke down,” said Mack. “It was a very big jump from 40 hours community service to starting at 15 months in jail.”
Mack’s family said it hoped the U.S. government would intervene, and believed the Cayman authorities were making an example out of her.
When Mack returned to the U.S. last week, her grandmother, Jeanne Mack, broke her silence for the first time about her reaction to her granddaughter's prison sentence and what Ramgeet told her when he called from prison, pleading with Jeanne not to be angry with her granddaughter.
"He said, 'Please don't be mad with her, please don't be mad with her.' And I'm like, but she knows better," Jeanne Mack told ABC News. "It's kinda hard to fall asleep when you know that someone you love so much [isn't] sleeping and they're uncomfortable. I know that she's a tough girl but she had to be scared."
Now, Mack said she realizes the gravity of her actions amid a global pandemic that has killed nearly 2 million people.
“I would have never been able to live with myself knowing that I could have been the reason that somebody could have even just been sick,” she said. “The action itself was serious, but like how much worse it could have been.”
“It was a selfish decision. There’s no reason that I can give you to grant me a second chance,” she added. “I don’t expect anybody to ever forgive me, but I would like for them to at least let me be able to show them that I did learn from it.”