Are the recent deaths of U.S tourists in the Dominican Republic linked?
June 25, 2019
The mysterious deaths of several American tourists vacationing in the Dominican Republic have been hitting the headlines over the last few months. Six of those deaths are currently being investigated by the FBI.
So who are the victims and what has been happening on the Punta Cana coast?
The Dominican Republic entertains 6 million tourists a year, 2 million of which are American citizens. From 2018 – 2019 several died under mysterious circumstances in the same general area and were all shown to have a similar cause of death.
In April of this year a 67 year old Californian construction worked died in the Dominican Republic. Robert Bell Wallace had been drinking scotch from the minibar at the “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort" in Punta Cana when he suddenly fell ill and began passing blood in his urine. He was rushed to hospital and pronounced dead the following day. Officials could not provide his family with a cause of death.
On the 25th of May, 2019, 41 year old animal lover and psychotherapist, Miranda Schaup-Werner, died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic with her husband. The Pennsylvania native was having a couple of drinks at the “Bahía Principe Bouganville” in La Romana in celebration of 9 years of marriage when she suddenly collapsed. The official cause of death was ruled as heart attack, respiratory problems and pulmonary edema (water in the lungs).
“Pulmonary edema is secondary to something. It’s simply a constellation of fluid collecting in lung. There’s cause for that. It doesn’t just happen out of the blue,” a doctor and lung specialist at Rutgers University told CBS.
Pulmonary edema can be caused by injury or damage to the lungs, such as being exposed to dangerous gases, heart attacks, other pre-existing heart-related diseases, hypertension, pneumonia , infection, reactions to medicines and high altitude exposure, to list a few.
Leyla Cox was found dead at the “Excellence Hotel and Resort” in Punta Cana. According to her family she had suffered several heart attacks in the past. Autopsy revealed Cox’ cause of death to be high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. She was 53. She complained that she felt sick to the hotel staff and although she wanted to be taken to the hospital, she never made it.
Then, on June 13th, 55 year old Joseph Allen of New Jersey was found dead in his hotel Sosúa. He had been to the Dominican Republic many times before without incident, but this would be his final trip. After complaining of feeling overheated he left his friends at the poolside to shower and sleep, never to wake up again. The cause of death? Respiratory issues or heart attack.
Just a few days later on the 29th, 63 year old Nathaniel Edward Holmes complained of feeling ill. He was staying at the “Grand Bahia Principe La Romana” resort on Carretera San Pedro with his girlfriend, 49 year old Cynthia Ann Day, at the time.
The following morning when the couple neglected to check out on time, hotel staff attempted to rouse them, but received no response. When they opened up the room they discovered the bodies of Holmes and Day in the bed. There were no signs of breaking and entering, nor any signs of violence or trauma to the bodies. It seemed as though the pair had simply gone to sleep and never woken up again. It was strange enough that several other individuals had died similar ways, but a couple, on the same night, in the same room?
The cause of death was said to be “respiratory failure” and “accumulation of fluid in the lungs”, there was also evidence of internal bleeding. An official spokesperson would later go on to say that Day had “died of shock upon seeing that Holmes had died next to her” and it was noted in the autopsy that she had fluid and swelling around the brain.
Back in June of 2018, 51 year old Pennsylvania native, Yvette Monique Sport, would go on to suffer a similar fate. She was vacationing with her fiancé at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana when she failed to wake up. She had showered and had a drink from the hotel minibar before going to bed and never woke up again. Her boyfriend admitted that he did hear her making a noise in her sleep but didn’t think anything of it until the next morning when he realized she was dead. The cause of death was determined to be a heart attack but is currently under investigation.
A month later yet another American tourist was found dead at the all-inclusive, 5-star casino resort he was staying at. David Harrison died in his room at The “Hard rock hotel and casino” which is around 125KM away from the “Grand Bahia Principe La Romana” in Punta Cana. He was with his wife at the time, celebrating their anniversary and the two had gone snorkeling before returning to their room, where he expressed that he wasn’t feeling good. By the next morning he was struggling to get up and perspiring heavily before he died. Again, his cause of death was ruled as a heart attack, fluid in the lungs and respiratory issues.
Many of the families of those who died suddenly while vacationing in the Dominican Republic felt as though they were pressured to get the remains cremated in order to make it less costly and more efficient to bring their loved ones home. Several families wished that they had held back on the arrangements in order to have autopsies performed in the USA.
Commonalities shared between the deceased are as follows:
-40+ years old
-(Most) drank from the hotel or hotel minibar
-(Most) stayed at one of two hotels
-All in the Punta Cana area (with one exception)
- Respiratory or heart related causes of death
-(Most) died in their sleep or quickly after waking
-(Most) Couples on vacation
It may also be worth considering that they all more than likely took part in ocean based activities such as snorkeling as they were on the beach.
In a move that they claimed was not connected to the deaths, “The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino” said they would be removing the alcohol dispensers from the in-room minibars.
Despite tourist officials in the Dominican Republic accusing the U.S of overreacting to what they believe was just a handful of unrelated deaths, investigation is still ongoing.