Should you cancel your trip to the Dominican Republic?
After a string of recent tourist deaths at luxury resorts in the Caribbean paradise, we are all starting to wonder if it’s a good idea to go on vacation.
How many people have died?
Nine. Nine people have died in the last year on a vacation to the Dominican Republic. And we aren’t talking of old age or poor health.
Nine people went to the DR feeling totally fine, and ended up dead on their vacation. Most of them with a cause unknown.
Who all has died?
Yvette Monique Sport, Age 51. She died in June 2018 at the Bahia Principe Resort in Punta Cana.
She had a drink from her mini bar, and never woke up the next morning.
David Harrison, Age 45. He died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana in July 2018.
He went snorkeling, came home not feeling well, and the next day he was dead.
Robert Wallace, Age 67. He was staying at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana in April.
He got sick after having a drink from the minibar.
John Corcoran, Age 67. He was staying in the Dominican Republic at an unnamed hotel.
He is believed to have died of natural causes, but the DR hasn’t released the autopsy reports.
Miranda Schaup-Werner, Age 41. She was staying at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic.
She had a drink from the minibar, and immediately felt sick. She died a short while later. The toxicology reports still haven’t been released.
Nathaniel Holmes, Age 63 and his fiancee, Cynthia Day, Age 49. They were also staying at the Granda Bahia Principe in April and were found dead in their room after they’d missed their check out time.
Their toxicology reports have also not been released.
Leyla Cox, Age 53. She was staying at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana in June.
Official cause of death, according to the Dominican republic officials was a heart attack. Her son does not believe this was at all the case. The Dominican republic has not done a toxicology report on her.
Joseph Allen, Age 55. He was staying at the Terra Linda resort in Sosua, Dominican Republic in June.
He told friends at the hotel he wasn’t feeling well one evening, and the next morning he was found dead in his room. His family is trying to have his body sent back to the US for an autopsy.
Where exactly is the Dominican Republic?
The Dominican republic is located on the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Dominican Republic is bordered by Haiti to the east. (In other words, it’s down there in the Caribbean islands, right smack in the middle of the ocean.)
Are only people over the age of 40 getting sick in the Dominican Republic?
No, earlier this week, a group of recent high school graduates on their senior got sick after drinking from the same swim up bar at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana. Six of them ended up hospitalized, but all ended up making it home safely.
Several other people have reported getting sick on their trips, but many chalked it up to general traveling sickness, or drinking water they shouldn’t have.
According to the New York Times, “Kaylynn Knull, 29, and Tom Schwander, 33, are suing the resort chain for $1 million, their lawyer told The Times, because the Colorado-based couple became violently ill during their stay at the Grand Bahia Príncipe La Romana last summer. Ms. Knull got a persistent headache and was sweating and drooling profusely, the lawyer, David Columna, said. She also had blurry vision, nausea and diarrhea, she told CNN, and family doctors determined the couple had been exposed to organophosphates, a class of insecticides.”
Are the hotels connected in any way?
The hotels are mostly centralized in Bahai Principe Resorts. These are all inclusive luxury resorts, and speaking as someone who has done a lot of traveling at all inclusive resorts, most of the time they are stocked with the same amenities, the mini bars are stocked with the same alcohol (often times not with top shelf liquor, because they are free), and even sometimes share staff from one hotel to the next.
Often times the staff is trained at one or two schools on the island and then local hotels hire from the graduates.
Are the hotels accepting responsibility for these deaths?
No. Most of these deaths have been attributed to heart attacks or “natural causes.” The hotels have all said they will collaborate with the Dominican Republic official investigations, and will do whatever they can to help.
What is the Dominican Republic doing about this?
They have said they are investigating the deaths, but they seem to be acting like they aren’t all that big of a deal. Even though most of these people are dying in a pretty similar fashion, they keep chalking everything up to coincidence.
What is the United States doing about this?
According to this statement released by the US Embassy, they are concerned for the safety of US citizens traveling to the DR, and are offering up FBI assistance to them specifically regarding toxicology analysis.
They also see no connection with the deaths so far.
Does anybody have any idea what is happening? Why are people dying in the Dominican Republic?
Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security told the New York Times that “the symptoms that have been reported, like pulmonary edema, bleeding and vomiting blood, are “consistent with poisoning,” perhaps accidental. But until toxicology reports are available, he said, it is difficult and too soon to definitively say what caused the visitors’ deaths.
“It’s rare for travelers to die of unknown causes like this, and to have a high number of them in a relatively short period of time is alarming, shocking, sad,” Dr. Inglesby said. “It’s something that investigators should be able to get to the bottom of.”
The fact that toxicology reports have not been released or completed is “unconscionable and inexplicable,” he said.
What does this mean for people planning to travel to the Dominican Republic.
Um, it means you might want to hold off until we have more confirmation about what has killed these people. It’s just a vacation. It can wait.