When one American tourist dies while on vacation, we can usually chalk it down to bad luck or misadventure. But when the deaths keep occurring and there are no answers, the questions start pouring in.
Based on which source you read, between 9 and 12 American tourists have died unexpectedly in the Dominican Republic in recent months.
- June 2018 – Yvette Monique Sport died at Bahia Principe Bouganville Hotel. A heart attack is listed as her cause of death.
- July 2018 – David Harrison died at the Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana. His death was also ruled a heart attack.
- January 25, 2019 – Jerry Curran (78) checked into the Dreams resort in Punta Cana and died three days later from ‘pulmonary edema’.
- April 2019 – John Corcoran (60) died from a heart attack while on his annual trip to the Dominican Republic.
- April 13, 2019– Robert Wallace became sick at the same Hard Rock Hotel where David Harrison died. He died the following day.
- May 25, 2019 – Miranda Schaup-Werner died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville. She collapsed and passed away not long after checking into the resort.
- May 30, 2019 – Cynthia Day and Nathaniel Holmes were found dead in their hotel room at the Bahia Principe La Romana. They reportedly suffered from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema according to an early autopsy. Investigators also reportedly found several bottles of medication in the couple’s room.
- June 10, 2019 – Leyla Cox died while vacationing at the Excellence Punta Cana resort. Her cause of death is listed as a heart attack.
- June 13, 2019 – Joseph Allen was found dead in his hotel room at Terra Linda in Sosua.
There have been other mysterious deaths, crimes and disappearances in the region.
- January 27, 2016 – Darryl Fornatora had traveled to the Dominican Republic for a surfing trip. He never returned and his body has never been found.
- February 20, 2019 – Brennon Conrad (18) was serving on a LDS mission in the Dominican Republic. He died after he fell from a roof.
- March 26, 2019 – Orlando Moore (43) and Portia Ravenelle (32) were last seen checking out of the Gran Bahia Principe Cayacoa in Samana. They were both found deceased and officials gave their causes of death as an auto accident. Portia was found on the side of the road on the day they went missing and Orlando’s body was not found until March 31.
- April 2019 – 114 people from Oklahoma traveled to Hotel Riu Palace Macao. 47 of them became ill after they swam in the pool and had a drink at the swim-up bar. Officials state that a parasite may be to blame.
- June 2019 – A group of Oklahoma teenagers traveled to the Hard Rock Resort in Punta Cana (the same hotel where David Harrison and Robert Wallace died). Seven teens were rushed to hospital after they became sick on their vacation.
Dominican officials still insist that the country is a safe place to visit: “In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said earlier this month. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”
The US Department of State has not issued a travel warning for US residents who are planning a vacation to the region. “The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority. These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted,” the State Department said.
So, why is everyone dying?
Are all these deaths just a coincidence? Could there be a ‘super-bug’ living in swimming pools in the resort areas? Other theories that have been thrown around include pesticide poisoning and the supply by hotels to tourists of ‘bootleg alcohol’. This tainted alcohol may contain methanol which can be fatal to humans. Many of the deceased are said to have consumed drinks from hotel bars or the minibar before their death.
One wild theory is that there is a serial killer who is targeting American tourists by tainting their alcohol, food or water. Doubtful, but not totally impossible.
Did you have plans to travel to the Dominican Republic?
Will these deaths impact your plans or will you continue with your vacation? We will update this list with any new fatalities or crimes that occur, so be sure to check back!
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