Whitlocked Up in Spain

posted by / Blogs, Editorial / January 11, 2011

Out of Office Reply is Associate Editor Taylor Paul’s column on surf travel, big waves, and other manly bits

Doing time in a dank European prison cell is core score way up. Ricky Whitlock. Photos by Jimmicane

Note: The following story took place three years ago. The effects of the incident still linger.


Out of Office Reply

Ricky Whitlock’s cell is an eight-by-eight-foot concrete box that’s three stories below the ground. No windows. No bathroom. There’s a bench, also concrete, that he can lie on. The walls sweat icy condensation.

Ricky’s alone in a Spanish jail, accused of murder. He doesn’t know he’s accused of murder, however; he thinks he’s there because of a fight. A scuffle, really. Some drunk teenagers jumped him outside of a surf industry party in San Sebastian and he fought back. It tapered off. It was over. Not really, though. The cops grabbed him a few blocks away and threw him in la carcel. That night (with Ricky in his cell), the cops killed a man while making an arrest. In their panic to lighten themselves of such a burden, they said something that loosely translated to, “Let’s pin it on the yank.”


Ricky Whitlock

This is Ricky’s second visit with a judge in as many days. His honor presents Ricky with a photo of a Spanish man with a dirty beard, the same photo he showed him yesterday, and asks Ricky if he saw the man at the industry party. Ricky did not. And who cares anyway? That wasn’t one of the guys I fought, Ricky thinks. The judge barks something to a guard, who leads Ricky back down the stairs.

The cell bars swing shut behind him — meeeeee — door hinges whine like a closing submarine hatch. As the guard locks the cell, Ricky asks for the time.

Dos y media,” the guard says.

Ricky lies on his concrete slab, staring at pocks in the grey ceiling. Insomnia’s plagued him the past two days, but his mind swirls with worries, what ifs and what the f–ks. It overwhelms. Ricky dozes off.

He dreams of Carlsbad and he dreams of Tank, his English bulldog. Tank sits in a hallway, head tilted, and speaks to him, “When are you coming home?” Ricky moves towards Tank, but his prized pet vanishes before he can embrace him.

Ricky twitches awake and sits upright. Dizzy, he wonders if it’s today or tomorrow. “Hey,” he gets the guard’s attention. “What time is it?” The guard frowns, annoyed. “Son las tres,” he says. Today.

Information about Ricky has spread on the outside. It’s on the news in Spain — Americano Incarcerado en San Sebastian. His friends, family and sponsors know more than he does. His Facebook page is splattered with “Are you okay?” and “Dude, is this true?” messages. His mom pleads for help from the U.S. government, but they can’t or won’t help.

Ricky is sitting on his bench when they arrive, and it happens fast. Cell opens — meeeee — they take him to the judge. They know he’s not guilty and are letting him go. He must leave San Sebastian immediately, they tell him. The locals still think he did it and want to kill him. Ricky doesn’t bother with the how’s and the why’s and gets the f–k out of there. He gathers his things from his friend Piko’s house, gets a cab, and he’s on the next flight home.

He’s one of the last people on the plane, and shuffles impatiently behind the remaining passengers. Just get me out of here. Ricky finds his seat and stows his backpack in the last remaining overhead bin. He shuts it — meeeee. His pulse sprints. His hands clam. His brow moistens. It’s Ricky’s first of many bouts of anxiety associated with the sound. A noise that means metal bars, cramped spaces and cold slabs of concrete.



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  • meeeee

    yeah, that story is almost right… pfffff…. cops always go around killing local people.. right.

  • JH

    Yikes. That’s heavy.

  • RW Surfboards

    For the record, the guy died when the cops tried to sedate him. The police gave him a shot to calm him down and due to the other drugs in his system (ie. “K”) the guy died. This is a very “tragic” incident for both families involved.

  • Adam


    1. 3 years ago Ricky Whitlock was in Spain.

    2. While in Spain Ricky went to a party.

    3. After the party Ricky was in a fight and got arrested.

    4. Someone was killed that night and Ricky was held as a suspect.

    5. A couple of days later the authorities determined it wasnt Ricky so they let him go.

    6. Ricky flew home.

    Slow news day?

  • Jerry Curl

    Adam’s version is the succint/accurate one.

    Lesson: don’t get drunk and get in fights with locals at “industry parties” in foreign countries.

    The End.

  • the guy

    I was told that Ricky was being a stupid drunk calling out
    people and then he got into a fight, the boys went back to get CJ
    kanuha for back up…they went to get ricky out of there and in the
    process they hit some guys with some sticks and bottles, knocking
    one of the guys out… the rest is a big mistery

  • haole2u2

    am i missing something? this is an interesting story and
    all, but i thought there would be an update or something?

  • yeah guy

    this reporting is getting worst by the post. maybe the next
    time there is a story to tell that has some potential with being
    interesting, the mag might be better off asking a 5th grader from
    the local elementary to write it… my gosh, or are you guys having
    a contest to see who can type the crappiest blog post in the
    shortest amount of time? this one had to have taken you what, 4
    minutes or so, and what, let me guess, with 2 fingers? i’m
    impressed. @RW – why is “tragic” in quotes? just curious.

  • Jaime

    I cant belive that a magazine like yours can write
    something like this: “they said something that loosely translated
    to, “Let’s pin it on the yank.” What such off gutter press is

  • RW Surfboards

    It’s tragic when a person looses their life and another is
    facing life in prison, “because of a party”. No sticks or bottles
    where used either and my friend “Piko” who lives there, tried to
    help both sides and calm everyone down. There were more like 5
    fights outside of the party earlier in the eve too. Which “Ricky”
    was nowhere near. The “Industry” should have supplied security to
    the event and to keep the competitors safe. When the team manager
    is blacked out drunk and then flees the next day while “their”
    athlete is in jail is weak.

  • sam

    haha, who is Ricky Whitlock anyway? D-listers now making news here? Even the tripe from Chas is better than this.

  • knowsall

    Ricky is the nicest person ever, anyone who knows him knows this is BS!


    Does anyone think it’s time for Bobby Martinez to put up or shut up?

  • Chris

    Such a horrible thing to go through. I can’t believe some the responses here. They act like it’s no big deal but I ask them, “how would you feel if you were in a foreign country, locked up for several days, and you know that your whole group was leaving you behind.” I ask how tough you think you would be? Go ahead and act like your some tough dude but we all know the truth. Sure, we all make mistakes and sometimes act like idiots, get drunk and get into fights. Is that the smartest way to behave? No. But it doesn’t make the whole situation any easier to go through.

  • Ito

    I dig this blog post because itʻs not “reporting” itʻs just “story-telling” about an unfortunate situation. Everybody should chill out, and not make the “Comments” a rumor mill.

  • Mik

    wow. great article. really put you in his shoes. moral? you never know where the road goes to when you start a fight. so don’t. be cool. be nice. if the crowd looks dangerous, then it IS, and you’d better get your ass out of there. i have a permanent 1 inch scar where my upper lip was severed when a drunk cold-cocked me from behind with an arm cast, at a New Year’s eve club party in LA. i knew i was in a club filled with gangsta types, but i stayed anyway. wrong. and if you kick someone’s ass and he dies, what then? tone down the aggression my brothers, cause it’s not taking us anywhere we want to go.

  • sam

    LOL at Chris. Not only have I been to San Sebastian (great town) but all over the world and NEVER once have I been thrown in jail, let alone for a murder rap. Play with fire prepare to get burned.

  • Darnt

    Jail = Temporary detention prior to trial. Ricky would have been locked in jail.

    Prison = Place in which a convict serves a sentence (in the U.S. of over 1 year).

    Ricky was temporarily housed in a Spanish jail (with drunks, shoplifters, etc). A charge of murder is obviously always serious, but we’re not talking about a lawless state here. One’s prospects of a fair trial in Spain would be at least as high as here in the U.S. Hope that’s helpful for perspective.

  • Michael Jackson

    I want my nose back.

  • Saxony10

    Shibby. This story had me going. This surfer is out and doing fine. Plus he appears to be a complete victim magnet without the understanding to “Go home accordingly”. It was nice reading these blogs. Without the comments I would have wondered what sort of people surfers have become. I no longer surf, too old and too poor but it seems the same ole same ole, say what we have to say and truth it out even if it hurts. Thanks for the comments.

  • saltydog

    If Ricky Whitlock has been a pro for at least three years
    now, why is this the first I’ve ever heard of him? I’m guessing
    being thrown in jail in Spain is the best result he’s ever had as a