Frightful similarities encircling tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic

By Caribbean News Now contributor – June 12, 2019

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic – The latest in a series of startling similar fatalities in the Dominican Republic, a sixth American tourist was reported Monday to have died from a strange illness at a resort in the island.

Most of the deaths, and several other serious illnesses, include healthy, middle-aged adults who consumed a drink from their hotel room minibar before abruptly becoming severely ill.       

That link appears like more than a fluke to the victims’ loved ones and has led to increased calls for action and even for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to initiate an investigation.

The most recent death to be reported was that of Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, who police stated died on April 14 while in the Dominican resort town of Punta Cana at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The coroner has yet to ascertain Wallace’s cause of death. However, his niece told reporters that her uncle became ill quickly after drinking a glass of scotch from the minibar in his room – three days later, he died in a hospital.

“We have so many questions,” niece Chloe Arnold lamented to reporters. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

The revelation that another American tourist, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, had died at the same Hard Rock in July 2018 under likewise mysterious circumstances further complicates this mystery.

Furthermore, just one month after Wallace died, three others mysteriously died in their rooms at another Dominican resort within five days in May.

Seventy miles west of Punta Cana at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvania, fainted and died in her room on May 25 after consuming a drink from her minibar. Five days later, Cynthia Day, 49, and Edward Holmes, 63 were discovered deceased in their room at the neighbouring Grand Bahia Principe resort.

Felicia Nieves, the sister of Yvette Monique Short, 51, last week phoned for answers after her sister died suddenly while vacationing at the Bahia Principe last June. Felicia Nieves told reporters her sister consumed a drink from the minibar inside her room, went to sleep and never woke up.

The deaths made headlines and initially put the focus on what now seems to be a yearlong pattern.

The news of the increasing death toll was especially troubling to Awilda Montes, 43, who stated she started vomiting blood after drinking soda from her minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe last October, but managed to survive.

“This could have been me in the headlines,” Montes informed reporters. “If I knew then what I know now, I would have left the island straight away.”

Montes surmises someone swapped the soda with chlorine and states she has been left with no taste buds, ongoing anxiety and permanent respiratory problems.

“I’ve heard all these different theories and the most that make sense to me would be a disgruntled employee or a serial killer,” she said. “I’m doing preparations for my daughter’s baby shower and yesterday she turned to me and said, ‘Just to think you could be gone, you could have missed all of this.’ ”

It wasn’t apparent if Holmes and Day drank from the minibar, and officials credited their deaths to respiratory failure. As for Schaup-Werner, Dominican authorities stated she had a heart attack, but Jay McDonald, her brother-in-law, contended she died of respiratory failure and had a drink from the bar.

The Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, a Spanish family-owned hotel chain runs both Bahia resorts. In an announcement on its Website, Grupo Pinero — the firm that manages the resorts — seems unapologetic, blaming reporters of publishing “inaccurate and false information” and of causing their reputation to suffer “great damage.”

A crew of specialists from the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control has since arrived at the resorts and is handling analyses at the Bahia Principe hotels where the three Americans died.

Dawn McCoy, said she was informed that her husband Harrison’s death in July 2018 at the Hard Rock was a heart attack but states she now disputes that ruling.

According to McCoy, before her husband’s death, he was mumbling, sweating profusely and “had a very potent, strange smell” before his death. “I accepted it,” McCoy informed reporters. “Then, when all these people started passing, I stopped and thought to myself, ‘How can all these people have the same cause of death as David?’ ”

Tom Schwander, 33, and Kaylynn Knull, 29, of Colorado filed a lawsuit against the resort’s owners earlier this year following a doctor’s ruling that they had suffered insecticide poisoning while staying at the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel La Romana in June 2018.

The pair told reporters on Friday they became seriously ill after noticing an overpowering “chemical smell” in their room.

At a news conference, Dominican Republic tourism minister Francisco Garcia maintained that the island was safe as more travellers reportedly withdraw their vacation plans. Garcia said more than 30 million visitors in the last five years visited the Dominican Republic without any widespread fears about health issues at its resorts.

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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On June 13, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    The Dominican Republic tourism minister Francisco Garcia should be taking these deaths more seriously. I assume that the DR police department are investigating these deaths.

  • Maureen wendsin  On June 13, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Sounds suspect…. Don’t go there .

  • Trevor  On June 14, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    This isn’t the usual. Sounds like some CIA or secret service testing how to eliminate political opponents using induced heart failure.

    • Ecowerrie  On June 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Well in article there was a funny smell. This happen to couple on honeymoon in Shri lanka.drank from mini bar and funny smell in room . The truth is out there …….

  • Ecowerrie  On June 14, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Well in article there was a funny smell. This happen to couple on honeymoon in Shri lanka.drank from mini bar and funny smell in room . The truth is out there …….

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