Kalina Collier needed to be found.
The 22-year-old JetBlue flight attendant with a burgeoning lifestyle YouTube channel had posted cryptic Instagram stories that suggested she was being held against her will in Jamaica, the Gleaner, a leading Jamaican newspaper, reported.
A January dream trip of beaches and rum runners turned into a room at the Ocean Coral Spring resort in Trelawny, she said, with no air conditioning and brown water flowing from faucets.
“Now I’m being held hostage,” she said.
Some viewers felt Collier’s story was a prime example of missing Black women and girls receiving less attention than missing White girls and women. Social media users started hashtags with her name, such as #whereiskalinacollier. Supporters called the resort and leaders to demand answers for the young woman they feared was missing or abducted.
The problem with her story: It wasn’t the whole truth.
The uncertainty of the two antigen results prompted Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and Wellness to perform a PCR test, the gold standard of coronavirus testing, which came back positive, Jamaican Ambassador to the United States Audrey P. Marks told The Washington Post in a statement.
The positive test result meant that she would need to spend 14 days quarantining in a hotel, free of charge, according to Jamaica’s standards.
“The USA covid-19 protocols would not allow her entry into the country with a positive result. Every traveler entering the USA must present a negative test result to their airlines on the day of travel,” Marks said. “Therefore, in light of her final positive PCR test, no airline, not even JetBlue, her employer, would have transported her to the U.S. without a period of quarantine.”
Collier was never sent to a hotel of any lesser quality than what she was willing to pay for out of pocket, Marks said.
In an Instagram Live video, Collier spoke of her concerns. She doubted the results of tests that she never saw while waiting in a room where she claimed three cameras were watching her. She also feared that the security guard patrolling outside her room would attack if she tried to leave.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said in a statement this week that Collier “was not abducted but being quarantined in her hotel for 14 days, which is in keeping with internationally accepted covid-19 protocols.”
“Miss Collier’s false allegations have gone viral across the globe and have convinced many persons that the Jamaican authorities and our tourism stakeholders have treated her unfairly,” he said.
“We have done everything in our power to ensure that her period of quarantine has been comfortable,” he said, adding that police have “visited the resort to verify that Collier was not being held under duress.”
Collier is back in New York after her claims ignited death threats against Jamaican tourism officials and forced the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica to release a statement regarding her allegations. She’s also lost her job with JetBlue.
Derek Dombrowski, a company spokesperson, told The Washington Post in a statement that an investigation led to the split.
“We continue to offer our apologies for the frustration and concern this incident has caused and reiterate our confidence in the health protocols Jamaica has put in place,” he said. “Speaking broadly, we hold JetBlue crewmembers to the highest standards when it comes to personal integrity.”
Collier, who did not respond to a request for comment, has since said in an Instagram post that she was never missing and asserted that she was harassed by hotel staff following her negative test.
“I am here to say that nothing I said in my live was a lie,” she said. “I understand that I went live and reached out for help, but my story is now beginning to be told for me and I won’t have that.”
Jamaica Gleaner reporter Janet Silvera did a walk-through of the room Collier stayed in during her quarantine and found that the “cameras” Collier referred to were actually motion sensors to conserve energy.
Silvera also found that Collier could open her balcony windows, though she would have been unable to interact with other guests as part of quarantine rules.
The resort’s director of sales, Tanesha Clarke, told the Gleaner that she understood why people reacted to Collier’s concerning allegations.
“And her refusal to go back to all the people she had lied to caused not only the hotel, but the island, to be doing damage control now,” she said.