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Westlake Legal Group > Elizabeth Llorente

Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it ‘ludicrous’

The Dominican public health minister said in a radio interview Monday that the Maryland couple found dead last month in a hotel room at a luxury resort had pre-existing health problems and may have died after mixing prescription drugs and alcohol.

In response, the attorney for the couple’s families called the minister’s claim “absolutely ludicrous.”

Public Health Minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas noted more than once during the interview that the couple’s May 30 deaths were extraordinary, given that they died almost “simultaneously” and that there was no sign of violence or foul play.

“The toxicological test will determine if there’s alcohol, and narcotics and the amount,” Sánchez Cárdenas said. “There’s been talk about drug abuse,” he added, noting it could be lethal if combined with alcohol. He added that “they had pre-existing health issues.”

Sánchez Cárdenas said the bottom line was that there was nothing nefarious about the rash of the U.S. tourist deaths dogging the country since first making headlines in the spring.

“Each one of these involved pre-existing health issues leading up to their deaths,” he said. “Every one of these cases can be explained. The autopsies show what happened.”

In a text message sent to Fox News, Steven Bullock, the attorney representing the Maryland couple’s families, called the public health minister’s remarks about the two tourists “absolutely ludicrous.”

SON OF TOURIST WHO DIED AT LUXURY RESORT AWAITS DOMINICAN AG’S APPROVAL TO GET MOTHER’S BLOOD SAMPLE TO U.S.

Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, who were engaged, were found unresponsive in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana by a resort employee who went to check on them after they failed to check out. The couple, who had been at the resort since May 25, had plans to return to the United States the day they turned up dead.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB2 Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it 'ludicrous' Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6c3fdc2b-17a5-5271-9622-41509dc55e4c

Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day died last month in the Dominican Republic. (Facebook)

Several medications were found in the room, including an anti-inflammatory drug, an opioid and blood-pressure medicine, Dominican officials said at a news conference last Friday. Autopsies for many of the tourists showed pulmonary edema, an accumulation of fluid in the lungs frequently triggered by heart disease. Among nearly a dozen U.S. tourists who have died in the country in the last 18 months, Dominican investigators said most died of a heart attack.

Autopsies for Day and Holmes showed they had enlarged hearts, internal bleeding and pulmonary edema. Day was said to have fluid in the brain. On the radio show, the health minister said that Holmes was “morbidly obese.”

DOMINICAN TOURISM OFFICIAL VOWS ‘DISCIPLINARY ACTION’ IF U.S. TOURIST DEATH PROBE FINDS NEGLIGENCE

FBI officials have been conducting toxicological tests in their Virginia research center on blood samples from the couple, as well as from a Pennsylvania woman, Miranda Schaup-Werner, who died at the same resort complex five days before. Schaup-Werner’s relatives said she collapsed after she had a drink from the minibar. Her autopsy stated she had a heart attack.

The news of Holmes’ and Day’s deaths, made public by their families when they went to the media with concerns about investigators’ preliminary determination that the two died of natural causes, prompted friends and relatives of other U.S. tourists who died in other Dominican resorts to come forward, sharing their suspicions and bewilderment about what killed their loved ones.

Many of the families described their deceased relatives as having been in generally good health right before traveling to the Dominican Republic. They have expressed outrage over what they saw as a concerted effort by Dominican officials to pin the deaths on the people who died. Some families have been arranging for their own autopsies and toxicological tests in the U.S.

The FBI told Fox News last week that the bureau sent a team to the Dominican Republic to help investigate the deaths.

Westlake Legal Group Rafael-Sanchez-Cardenas Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it 'ludicrous' Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6c3fdc2b-17a5-5271-9622-41509dc55e4c

Dominican Republic Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas is seen on the left. (Dominican Republic Public Health Ministry)

Among the questions that relatives and some U.S. public health and epidemiological experts have raised: whether at least some of the deaths might have been caused by counterfeit alcohol or by pesticides or insect-killer chemicals that somehow wound up on drinking glasses or utensils.

As Sánchez Cárdenas was wrapping up the radio interview Monday morning, friends and family of Cynthia Day were gathering at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Maryland for her memorial service. Holmes’ funeral has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Dominican officials often have emphasized the presence of several prescription medications in the room where Day and Holmes were staying, but only in the last week started saying outright that the meds seemed to have played a role in their deaths.

In the morning radio interview, Sánchez Cárdenas said the couple had a practical “pharmacy” in their room. Last week, Carlos Suero, the spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, told Fox News in a wide-ranging phone interview that the coverage of the rash of deaths in the popular Caribbean vacation spot as “mysterious” was nothing but fake news. Suero said that in a competitive industry such as tourism, there were people who would try to undermine a top destination such as the Dominican Republic.

Suero laid out many of the arguments and scenarios that Sánchez Cárdenas underscored in the radio interview, speaking about the health issues that some of the tourists allegedly had, and saying that perhaps it wasn’t responsible to travel with such health problems.

Suero told Fox News that Holmes died first and Cox died afterward, saying that the shock of seeing Holmes dead next to her could have killed her.

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it 'ludicrous' Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6c3fdc2b-17a5-5271-9622-41509dc55e4c

Will Cox and his mother, Leyla Cox, who died in the Dominican Republic. (Will Cox)

At the funeral service, Bullock told reporters he did not buy the account by Dominican investigators about the cause and circumstances of the deaths of Day and Holmes.

“It’s a mystery,” Bullock told WTOP. “There’s reason for us to pause, and we’re going to investigate this and get this matter resolved.”

Bullock said he was focused on getting more information from U.S. officials and results of toxicology tests before jumping to conclusions.

“We need to find out what’s going on and what happened,” said Meshonn Madison, Day’s friend.

Sánchez Cárdenas also singled out the deaths of Joseph Allen, 55, of New Jersey, and Leyla Cox, 53, of New York. He said Allen had unhealthful habits such as smoking and drinking regularly, and a report on his death referred to him as “a ticking timebomb,” adding that “his organs were practically destroyed, with a biological age of more than 80 years old. He was extremely obese, weighing more than 400 pounds.”

Allen’s family has disputed those conclusions.

The health minister said Cox’s autopsy showed she previously had suffered several heart attacks. However, her family and her former supervisor at the New York hospital where she worked as an MRI technician said Cox had never suffered a heart attack.

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Her son, Will Cox, lashed out at Dominican investigators as untrustworthy and said they repeated had put up roadblocks when he tried to get answers and that they tried to rush him into letting them cremate or embalm her. With the intervention of the U.S. Embassy and congressional lawmakers, Cox succeeded in getting Dominican officials to agree to send a vial of his mother’s blood to the U.S., where the hospital where she worked would run toxicology tests.

“We’re not talking about a patient who had no medical conditions,” the health minister said of Leyla Cox in the radio interview. “A person with hypertension is vulnerable to a heart attack.”

Westlake Legal Group Rafael-Sanchez-Cardenas Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it 'ludicrous' Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6c3fdc2b-17a5-5271-9622-41509dc55e4c   Westlake Legal Group Rafael-Sanchez-Cardenas Dominican health minister says drugs, alcohol, medical problems may have killed US couple; lawyer calls it 'ludicrous' Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6c3fdc2b-17a5-5271-9622-41509dc55e4c

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hard Rock’s Dominican Republic resort, where two U.S. tourists died, pulls minibars from all rooms

The Hard Rock resort in the Dominican Republic, where two U.S. tourists died in the past year, says it is removing minibars from all its guest rooms.

The resort said in a statement that it is also contracting with a U.S. health care facility to ensure that the clinic at the resort “is complying with all international and U.S. standards of care.”

The move comes on the heels of the news that celebrity Steve Harvey has dropped plans to hold his third annual Sand and Soul Festival at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which is in Punta Cana.  The event, planned for October, is being canceled because of concerns about tourist safety in the Dominican Republic, where at least 11 U.S. tourists are known to have died in the past year after suddenly falling critically ill at all-inclusive resorts. Another U.S. tourist died in a luxury resort on the popular Caribbean vacation spot in 2016.

CALIFORNIA MAN DIED IN APRIL AT HARD ROCK RESORT IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC AFTER DRINK FROM MINIBAR, FAMILY SAYS

Dominican authorities have insisted from the time the first deaths were reported in May – when news broke that a Maryland couple were found dead in their room — that they were triggered by natural causes. But because the families of the tourists have raised doubts, saying that their loved ones had been generally healthy and showed no signs of illness prior to suddenly getting sick and dying in the Dominican Republic, Dominican authorities and the FBI are conducting tests of the minibars.

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-HR Hard Rock's Dominican Republic resort, where two U.S. tourists died, pulls minibars from all rooms fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 8ec3c4e4-20ab-5b71-bcc8-6ffe642e02c6

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died in April after suddenly falling ill at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana. 

“Today, June 21, 2019, the Ministry of Public Health in the Dominican Republic has released further information on the American tourists who passed away in 2019, including autopsy findings that reveal these deaths were unrelated and from natural causes and pre-existing conditions,” the resort statement said. “We are deeply saddened by these unfortunate incidents, and extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of those affected. We will continue to respect the privacy of our guests and their families.”

“The safety and health of our guests is now, and has always been, our highest priority,” the statement continued. “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana follows internationally recognized regulations regarding guest health, sanitation and security.”

DOMINICAN TOURISM OFFICIAL VOWS ‘DISCIPLINARY ACTION’ IF U.S. TOURIST DEATH PROBE FINDS NEGLIGENCE

Questions have arisen about whether the tourists who died after consuming a beverage actually drank bootleg or counterfeit alcohol, where sometimes a legitimate brand of alcohol, or water, is mixed with a lesser grade and sometimes deadly substance such as methanol and other indigestible alcohol compounds and chemicals. Safeproof.com says that methanol, “a common additive to solvents, antifreeze and other industrial products is deadly for human consumption.”

Westlake Legal Group David-Harrison-Robert-Wallace-Facebook Hard Rock's Dominican Republic resort, where two U.S. tourists died, pulls minibars from all rooms fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 8ec3c4e4-20ab-5b71-bcc8-6ffe642e02c6

David Harrison, left, and Robert Bell Wallace, right, both died after falling critically ill at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in the Dominican Republic. Their families do not believe that they died of natural causes, as Dominican authorities have said.

The Hard Rock statement said the resort implements “rigorous food and beverage protocols, including purchasing products from U.S. licensed and reputable vendors, as well as daily inspections of all products served throughout the hotel.”

“Additionally, our team members are trained to inspect all supplies, equipment and products that enter the property,” it continued. “The property employs more than 70 security personnel per shift and has hundreds of cameras on property to provide the utmost safety for guests and team members.”

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Two of the known 12 U.S. tourists who died fell suddenly ill while at the Hard Rock resort.

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became ill almost immediately after he had a scotch from the room minibar at the Hard Rock resort, his niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News. Wallace, who died on April 14, was in the Dominican Republic to attend his stepson’s wedding.

Arnold said her uncle, an avid traveler, had been in relatively good health and just the month before had been skiing in Lake Tahoe.

“He was fine,” Arnold said of her uncle, who owned a construction business and whose obituary page was filled with comments about his generosity and compassion. “He and his wife arrived there at around midnight on April 10. On April 11 he had scotch from the minibar. He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward.”

In July 2018, David Harrison, 45, became severely ill in his room at the Hard Rock resort and died at a hospital.

His widow, Dawn McCoy, said that it took nearly a half hour for a doctor to show up at the resort room, where her husband’s condition had been deteriorating quickly. A funeral director came over to her at the hospital to tell her that Harrison was dead. Like many relatives of the other U.S. tourists, McCoy said she was repeatedly pressured to cremate her husband’s body.

On Saturday, McCoy said on “Fox & Friends” that she does not trust what Dominican authorities told her about her husband’s death.

The Hard Rock statement noted  “All of the alcohol on property will continue to be brand name and sourced from the U.S., with the exception of a Dominican Republic specialty, Mama Juana, and local beer, Presidente, that we carry to support our community.”

The resort also noted that while it has been inspected by the Ministry of Public Health, it nonetheless has contracted a U.S. third-party testing lab “to provide inspections and laboratory testing of all food and beverage products and public spaces.”

The Nickelodeon Hotel & Resort in Punta Cana, which has not had any reported U.S. tourist death, meanwhile, is purportedly scrambling to find out what made former “Bachelorette” star Melissa Rycroft severely ill during her stay at the resort recently.

Page Six quoted a representative of Rycroft as saying she was still very ill, battling “major stomach issues” even after being back in the United States.

TMZ, the celebrity gossip site, reported that its sources say “the Nickelodeon Resort is freaking out and lots of people are canceling their reservations, though it’s unclear if news of Melissa’s mysterious illness is the reason for the cancellations, or simply the general hysteria involving tourist deaths on the island.”

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-HR Hard Rock's Dominican Republic resort, where two U.S. tourists died, pulls minibars from all rooms fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 8ec3c4e4-20ab-5b71-bcc8-6ffe642e02c6   Westlake Legal Group Wallace-HR Hard Rock's Dominican Republic resort, where two U.S. tourists died, pulls minibars from all rooms fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 8ec3c4e4-20ab-5b71-bcc8-6ffe642e02c6

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dominican tourism official vows ‘disciplinary action’ if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence

The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister said on Friday that if the investigation into the rash of deaths of U.S. tourists finds wrongdoing or negligence, those responsible will face “disciplinary measures to fit their actions.”

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia expressed confidence that the deaths were all rooted in natural causes and insisted that it is safe to vacation there.

“We wish these things didn’t happen,” he said. “But unfortunately, they do. … That’s why we’re interested in knowing what happened to them.”

Garcia stressed that autopsy reports that were done following the deaths of most of the tourists showed that there was nothing nefarious, and acknowledged the toxicological tests the FBI is conducting in its research center in Quantico, Va., in the deaths of three Americans who died in their rooms at Bahia Principe resorts.

“If there’s something that went wrong, we will take the disciplinary measures that are warranted,” Garcia said. “We will make whatever decision we must make if there’s been negligence of any kind. We will act.”

Earlier in the day, Garcia held a press conference to make the case that the popular Caribbean vacation spot is safe and that it did not deserve the negative attention triggered by worldwide headlines about the rash of U.S. tourist deaths. The Dominican Republic has signed a $35,000 monthly contract with the New York-based Rubenstein public relations powerhouse to fight the negative publicity.

As Dominican officials tried to quell rising concerns among would-be travelers worldwide about safety there, the State Department on Friday confirmed to Fox News the June 17 death of a New York business owner, Vittorio Caruso, 56, who died after becoming critically ill at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.

Westlake Legal Group Viittorio-Caruso Dominican tourism official vows 'disciplinary action' if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 38711d92-5ca5-587a-a579-2c922f77fbfb

Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, N.Y. (Courtesy of Lisa Caruso)

Caruso’s death is the third in a seven-day span in June, and he’s the 11th American tourist to die in the Dominican Republic since last year. The case of another tourist, a woman from Pennsylvania who died in 2016 under similar circumstances, was made public by her family this past week after they read about the others and detected common threads.

The two other U.S. tourists who died this month are Leyla Cox, a 53-year-old hospital MRI technician from New York who was found dead in her hotel room on June 10, and Joseph Allen, 55, from New Jersey, who died in his room on June 13.

Caruso’s sister-in-law, Lisa Maria Caruso, told Fox News that Vittorio was in good health and had owned and operated a pizzeria in New York with his brother until a month ago. She said that he’d traveled alone to the Dominican Republic.

DAUGHTER OF ARMY VET WHO DIED AT DOMINICAN RESORT: FUNERAL HOME ‘PRESSURED’ ME TO MAKE A DECISION ABOUT MY FATHER’S REMAINS

“We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something,” Caruso said. “We were told he wasn’t responding to any meds he was given and died. I honestly don’t know exactly what happened, as we have been told conflicting stories from different people there.”

“It is very hard to get a straight story from anyone there,” she said, adding that relatives are awaiting the autopsy report. “They even wanted to cremate the body. We insisted on having the body sent back here.”

“This was a complete shock to us, as Vittorio was not a sick person,” Caruso said. “He was expected to return home on June 27.”

Westlake Legal Group dr2 Dominican tourism official vows 'disciplinary action' if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 38711d92-5ca5-587a-a579-2c922f77fbfb

Chris Palmer with granddaughter Ruby (Courtesy of Bernadette Hiller)

On Thursday, Garcia told Fox News that the Tourism Ministry has tested the alcohol, food, water, kitchens and other areas of the resorts where U.S. tourists have died. He said the results of those tests could be known as soon as Monday.

From the outset, Dominican officials have denounced the characterization of the deaths as mysterious or in some way linked.

“There are no mysterious deaths here,” Garcia said in the Friday interview with Fox News.”‘Mysterious’ implies that things happened that science cannot explain.”

Garcia struck a sympathetic tone when asked what he would tell the deceased tourists’ relatives, who have uniformly told stories of being given the run-around by resort workers and government officials as they’ve tried to learn more about what happened.

JUAN WILLIAMS: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HASN’T ‘BEEN TRANSPARENT OR CLEAR’ AMID RESORT DEATHS

Like Caruso, the relatives have said that the tourists, who range in age from 41 to 78, were in relatively good health and showed no signs of illness prior to traveling to the Dominican Republic. The deaths have been described as happening following a sudden and rapidly worsening onset of symptoms.

Several tourists died shortly after consuming a minibar drink.

“To the people who have lost loved ones here, we want to say that when we learned about each one, it’s been the worst news we have received,” Garcia said. “When those people come to the Dominican Republic, just like when someone goes on vacation, you go happy, your family expects to see you again. When this happens, there’s pain and a sense of tragedy. The pain and the tragedy, we feel it [too].”

But Garcia took pains to emphasize that the Dominican Republic is one of the safest vacation spots in the world.

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox Dominican tourism official vows 'disciplinary action' if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 38711d92-5ca5-587a-a579-2c922f77fbfb

Will Cox and his mother, Leyla Cox (Courtesy of Will Cox)

“We’ve become the favorite destination for Americans first because of how we treat them,” he said, “second, because of the natural resources God blessed the Dominican Republic with, and third, because of the excellent hotels and resorts, of which are of a standard above that of facilities in other countries.”

Attorneys and relatives of the U.S. tourists assailed efforts by Dominican officials to depict the deaths as an unfortunate twist of fate and promote the country as a desirable vacation spot. Some are moving to have independent autopsies and toxicological tests done in the United States.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC OFFICIALS DOWNPLAY SPATE OF AMERICAN TOURIST DEATHS IN CARIBBEAN NATION

Steve Bullock, an attorney representing the families of Edward Holmes, 63, and his fiance Cynthia Day, 47, who both were found dead in their room on May 30 at the five-star Grand Bahia Principe La Romana resort, said: “That kind of reckless statement is repulsive and repugnant. We will let the facts and medical reports tell the story.”

Holmes and Day will be buried next week, Bullock said.

In an interview with Fox News host Harris Faulkner, Meghan Arnold –whose father Chris Palmer, an Army veteran, was found dead in his resort room on April 18, 2018–said that she is shocked that Dominican officials appear to resist seeing the rash of deaths of otherwise healthy people as mysterious.

“Honestly I have no words,” she said when Faulkner asked for her reaction to the tourism minister’s press conference. “I don’t understand how somebody can see –what is this, 11 deaths now? They all have somewhat of the same [offical cause of death], they’re all in the same area. He’s claiming that ‘You know, this can happen anywhere,’ and I completely agree. Heart attacks can happen anywhere. Bad things can happen anywhere. But where else are we seeing eleven cases of almost the same thing in the same area as we’re seeing in the Dominican Republic?”

“I’m just fighting to find answers,” Arnold said. “I feel for all of these other families because I know how hard this process is and I just feel that we all need to work together as a team, [let’s] come forward and report these. Tell your story and let’s work together to get it figured out…because nobody deserves this.”

Garcia said that statistically, the Dominican Republic has far fewer U.S. tourist deaths than other countries.

The US State Department website shows that between 2012 to 2018, 128 Americans died in the Dominican Republic from something other than natural causes. Dominican officials have been highlighting that statistic to argue that the country is safe, given that more than 2 million U.S. tourists visit there each year.

What is not clear, however, is how many U.S. tourists die of what Dominican authorities document as natural causes — the focus of the worldwide headlines.

When asked by Fox News on repeated occasions what the annual number of such deaths is, neither the U.S. State Department nor Dominican authorities has provided them.

Dominican authorities and U.S. intelligence and public health experts say that ultimately, the FBI report on toxicology results, as well as tests relatives are having done here, will shed critical light on what caused the spate of deaths.

Former FBI special agent Manny Gomez said on Fox News that while, as Dominican officials have stressed, people do die on vacation all over the world, the similarities of the U.S. tourists deaths seem extraordinary. In nearly every case, the cause of death was deemed to be a heart attack, and many of the tourists consumed a beverage before dying. Particularly odd was the death of Holmes and Day at the same time in their room.

“I see something that’s happening that’s very suspicious,” Gomez said. “These deaths have occurred in different resorts, it just hasn’t been one resort, it’s been at several different resorts in a short amount of time.”

Gomez theorized it could be alcohol laced with methanol, “or another poisonous substance.”

He said that would be “criminal in nature because people have been hurt and dying, there are dozens of people who’ve gotten severely ill, worse than that we don’t know how many other bad batches are out there.”

“That is why the FBI is there,” Gomez said. “The next phase in the investigation if they identify that there’s a toxic substance they have to find out where it came from and stop it, [find out] where it came from and who is responsible. The Dominican Republic needs to let the FBI do the good work that they do.”

Garcia said they requested help from the FBI because they lack the resources that the agency has in the U.S.

“We’re interested in knowing what caused” the deaths, he said.

Meanwhile, social media is filled with debates about whether there should be concern about vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Many said they were canceling reservations, but many others said they believe that the deaths were just fate and that the island is safe.

Westlake Legal Group Francisco-Javier-Garcia-AP Dominican tourism official vows 'disciplinary action' if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 38711d92-5ca5-587a-a579-2c922f77fbfb   Westlake Legal Group Francisco-Javier-Garcia-AP Dominican tourism official vows 'disciplinary action' if U.S. tourist death probe finds negligence Lucia Suarez Sang fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 38711d92-5ca5-587a-a579-2c922f77fbfb

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Family and friends of woman who died in Dominican Republic claim authorities are lying about past ‘several heart attacks’

Relatives and the former supervisor of a New York woman who died suddenly on June 10 at a luxury resort in Punta Cana are disputing the Dominican Republic Minister of Public Health’s claim that she had several past heart attacks.

On Monday, Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said at a press conference that Leyla Cox, a New York hospital MRI technician who died suddenly on June 10 in her room at the Excellence resort, had an enlarged heart, high blood pressure and that she had suffered “several past heart attacks.”

But on Wednesday, her supervisor where she worked at the Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island said that in the roughly 10 years she knew Cox, who was 53, she had not had a heart attack or had any serious medical conditions.

“She seemed to be in good health, she had medical tests here and all were good,” said Kathy Giovinazzo, the assistant vice president of clinical services at the hospital, in an interview with Fox News. “In all the years I knew her, I never knew her to have a heart attack.”

Dominican authorities have told the family that Cox died of a heart attack, but the family has expressed skepticism, saying that she had been healthy and had shown no signs of illness leading up to her trip to the island to celebrate her 53rd birthday. Prompted by doubts, her son, William Cox, successfully fought to get Dominican authorities to send a vial of her blood to the U.S. for toxicological testing.

Cox’s son accuses Dominican authorities of lying to avoid accountability.

“In the 25 years I’ve been alive, my mother did not have a heart attack,” he said, adding that others in the family said the Sanchez Cardenas characterization of Leyla Cox’s health were untrue.

“They’re lying,” Cox said. “It’s been like this from the beginning since she died. They give misinformation. They’re trying to cover up.”

The spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health told Fox News on Wednesday that Sanchez Cardenas was “stating facts that came directly from forensic and pathological tests.”

“Those tests tell you a person’s cause of death and any past medical conditions,” said Carlos Suero, the spokesman. “People come to the Dominican Republic with medical conditions and if they die here, they want to blame it on the Dominican Republic.”

Leyla Cox’s death was one of a rash of deaths of U.S. tourists in the Dominican Republic since last year that have been made public by their loved ones. The relatives of most of the nine U.S. tourists — whose deaths occurred under seemingly similar circumstances –have raised doubts about the accounts they’ve been given by Dominican authorities.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RESORT DEATHS MYSTERY: TIMELINE

Several are planning to conduct their own tests in the United States. Since Dominican authorities have declared nearly all the deaths to have occurred because of natural causes, they have declined to conduct toxicological tests, leading to complaints from the relatives.

“Once a death is declared to be from natural causes, they have a different process,” Cox said. “They can just declare any death to be of natural causes because then they’re not held accountable.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the Dominican attorney general approved Will Cox’s request that a blood sample from his mother be sent to the U.S. for toxicological tests. The hospital where she worked agreed to conduct the tests at no charge to her family.

Cox had wanted toxicological tests to be done in the Dominican Republic but was told that the machines were not working. He is trying to get her ashes sent to the U.S.

NEW JERSEY MAN, 55, IS LATEST CASE OF TOURIST’S DEATH IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Cox said it has been nothing short of an ordeal to extract information from the resort and Dominican authorities about the details of his mother’s death. He said that while a U.S. embassy staff member was in touch with him every day, and was helpful in some instances, in others he gave incomplete or erroneous information.

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox-2 Family and friends of woman who died in Dominican Republic claim authorities are lying about past 'several heart attacks' fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 3bee16bf-2994-51b6-b01f-90c29ef5b70d

Leyla Cox and her son Will when he was a child.

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Speaking on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday, Cox credited an official at the U.S. Embassy for helping him obtain blood and urine samples for a separate toxicology report in the United States. He said he initially received an incomplete police report, while the resort’s first statement on his mother’s death was incorrect.

“I felt like I was pushed up against the wall and didn’t have any options and they almost forced me to cremate the body within 24 hours,” said Cox, expressing fear that he’ll never get a clear answer on how his mother died.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050020005001_6050016881001-vs Family and friends of woman who died in Dominican Republic claim authorities are lying about past 'several heart attacks' fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 3bee16bf-2994-51b6-b01f-90c29ef5b70d   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6050020005001_6050016881001-vs Family and friends of woman who died in Dominican Republic claim authorities are lying about past 'several heart attacks' fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/us/crime fox-news/travel fox-news/topic/fox-news-flash fox-news/health fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 3bee16bf-2994-51b6-b01f-90c29ef5b70d

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Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG’s approval to get mother’s blood sample to US

The son of a New York hospital technician who died suddenly in her room at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana on June 10 says the U.S. Embassy and his congressional representatives have helped pave the way for a sample of his mother’s blood to be sent to the U.S. so that toxicology tests can be conducted.

Will Cox, 25, said that U.S. Embassy officials have told him that the Dominican Attorney General’s office must give final approval.

Cox’s mother, Leyla, of Staten Island, N.Y., died on the evening of June 10 at the Excellence resort. She was on a solo trip to celebrate her 53rd birthday and was in good health, said her son, who lives in Tennessee.

A Dominican police report, which Cox showed to Fox News, listed the cause of death as a heart attack. Cox questions it because he says his mother was healthy and the family did not know her to have a heart condition.

NEW JERSEY MAN, 55, IS LATEST CASE OF TOURIST’S DEATH IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Cox said it has been nothing short of an ordeal to extract information from the resort and Dominican authorities about the details of his mother’s death. He said that while a U.S. embassy staff member was in touch with him every day, and was helpful in some instances, in others he gave incomplete or erroneous information.

“It’s been more unknowns than answers,” he said. “It’s been that way since the beginning. One person tells me one thing, and then someone else tells me another. [Diplomat] William Swaney at the U.S. Embassy stepped in and has been the only one who’s really been helpful.”

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG's approval to get mother's blood sample to US fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente bb709abd-78da-5901-861d-33676e77e490 article

Will Cox and his mother, Leyla Cox (Courtesy of Will Cox)

Cox’s complaints echo that of relatives of most of the other U.S. tourists — a total of nine known cases so far have died while on vacation on the popular Caribbean island after falling suddenly and critically ill over the past year. They describe getting the runaround by resort staff, getting little information about their loved ones’ deaths, and having to wait for death certificates and autopsy reports far longer than what they had been told.

Cox said U.S. Embassy staffers, relaying information they said they got from Dominican authorities, told him last week that the toxicology machines in the country were not working. They also told him that since his mother’s death was deemed to be of natural causes, it didn’t qualify for toxicology tests.

“Every American has a right to know what I’m going through,” Cox told Fox News on Tuesday. “People need to know that these places aren’t as safe as they think. As a U.S. citizen, there’s practically nothing you can do.”

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RESORT DEATHS MYSTERY: TIMELINE

He added: “Once a death is declared to be from natural causes, they have a different process. They can just declare any death to be of natural causes because then they’re not held accountable.”

Of the nine deaths that have become publicly known so far, Dominican authorities said that most were caused by a heart attack. In the case of engaged Maryland couple Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day, who were found dead in their room on May 30 — a final report on the cause of death is pending. In nearly all of them, Dominican authorities said there were signs of pulmonary edema — a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. The tourists ranged in age from 41 to 78.

The Dominican Ministry of Tourism has denounced what it sees as an overreaction to what it characterizes as coincidental.

Cox said he does not know if his mother, who had trouble getting cell and Internet service from the resort, had a drink from the minibar or elsewhere in the resort. He said his efforts to get answers to those questions from the hotel and Dominican authorities have been futile.

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox-2 Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG's approval to get mother's blood sample to US fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente bb709abd-78da-5901-861d-33676e77e490 article

Leyla Cox and her son Will when he was a child.

The U.S. State Department on Friday said of Cox’s death: “We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss.  We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death.”

“We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the statement to Fox News said. “We refer you to the Dominican authorities regarding any ongoing investigation. Out of respect for family members and loved ones we cannot comment further.”

DOMINICAN OFFICIALS PLEAD FOR PATIENCE AS FBI, HEALTH SPECIALISTS PROBE TOURIST DEATHS

Cox said he has not been able to mourn his mother as he fights his battle with the Dominican government.

“I would love to see my Mom again,” he said last week. “But next time I see her, she may be ashes. It’s just not right. I want to see her body. I’m a U.S. citizen, I have a right to see my mother’s body. I have a right to know what happened. I want to perform an autopsy here, and get a toxicological test here, so I can get answers.”

Westlake Legal Group Excellence-Punta-Cana-Excellence-Resorts Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG's approval to get mother's blood sample to US fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente bb709abd-78da-5901-861d-33676e77e490 article

Excellence Resort, Punta Cana

Many of the tourists became critically and suddenly ill after consuming a beverage from the room minibar. The FBI told Fox News that it is assisting Dominican investigators in looking into whether the tourists died of something other than natural causes. The New York Post, citing the Dominican Ministry of Public Health, reported that investigators are conducting tests on pools, air-conditioning units, food areas and alcohol at two Bahia Principe resorts where three visitors died.

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The newspaper said that the Dominican National Police in 2017 dismantled five labs used for the manufacture of alcohol not safe for human consumption.

Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG's approval to get mother's blood sample to US fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente bb709abd-78da-5901-861d-33676e77e490 article   Westlake Legal Group Leyla-Cox Son of tourist who died at luxury resort awaits Dominican AG's approval to get mother's blood sample to US fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/dominican-republic fox-news/world/world-regions/caribbean-region fox-news/world/crime fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente bb709abd-78da-5901-861d-33676e77e490 article

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California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says

A fourth U.S. tourist died after he fell critically and suddenly ill at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic about a month before three others died in their rooms, Fox News has learned.

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became ill almost immediately after he had a scotch from the room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana, his niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News on Sunday. He was in the Dominican Republic to attend his stepson’s wedding.

Arnold said her uncle, an avid traveler, had been in relatively good health and just the month before had been skiing in Lake Tahoe.

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-HR California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died this past April after he suddenly fell ill at a Dominican Republic resort. (Wallace family)

Arnold said the family has been particularly concerned after having recently learned of the other seemingly mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic. Miranda Schaup-Werner, a Pennsylvania woman, died almost four weeks later, on May 25, after she had a drink from her minibar at another hotel, the Bahia Principe La Romana.

U.S. TOURIST BEATEN DURING DOMINICAN VACATION ACCUSES RESORT OF VICTIM-BLAMING

“He was fine,” Arnold said of her uncle, who owned a construction business and whose obituary page was filled with comments about his generosity and compassion. “He and his wife arrived there at around midnight on April 10. On April 11 he had scotch from the minibar. He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward.”

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-1 California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article

Wallace, pictured with his wife, Beverly, started feeling sick after drinking the scotch from the minibar, his niece said. (Wallace family)

She said a hotel doctor had checked Wallace, then decided on April 13 that he needed to be hospitalized. He died April 14. Dominican authorities have yet to give the family a cause of death, Arnold said.

“We have so many questions,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

The U.S. State Department, responding to questions about Wallace’s death, said in a statement to Fox News: “We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in April 2019 in the Dominican Republic.  We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide.”

PENNSYLVANIA WOMAN DIED AT SAME DOMINICAN RESORT COMPLEX FIVE DAYS BEFORE MARYLAND COUPLE IN SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES 

In recent days, a Maryland widow went public with concerns about the death of her husband, David Harrison, last year at the same Hard Rock resort under similar, sudden circumstances. The two had gone there with their 12-year-old son to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

“My husband was a very fit, very healthy person when he passed away,” she told Inside Edition. She said he’d had a physical shortly before the trip and, except for high blood pressure which he kept in check with medication, everything was fine.

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-3 California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article

Robert and Beverly Wallace were avid travelers. (Wallace family)

“I started seeing all these other people that were dying of the same exact causes, which made me start to second guess. I no longer feel like my husband died of natural causes,’  McCoy told local TV station WTOP. “We went down there as a happy family, and we came home a broken family. I came home a widow and my 12-year-old son came home fatherless.”

Efforts to get a comment about the deaths of Harrison and Wallace from Hard Rock in Punta Cana were unsuccessful.

On May 30, an engaged couple from Maryland, Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, died in their room at the Bahia Principe La Romana. A hotel employee found them unresponsive in their room after they failed to check out.

Dominican authorities have said either preliminary or final autopsies indicated they all died of natural causes, and that they were isolated incidents, but the families said they had doubts. Some have hired lawyers and planned additional autopsies and tests in the United States.

U.S. officials have been restrained in their comments, only confirming deaths when asked. Neither the State Department, Bahia Principe, nor Dominican authorities have responded to repeated questions by Fox News about how many tourists from the U.S. and elsewhere have died in their rooms, or anywhere in resorts, in recent years.

Nearly half of the roughly 5 million tourists who visit the Dominican Republic each year are from the United States, statistics have shown.

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-4 California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article

Wallace and his wife were in the Dominican Republic to attend a wedding, a relative said. (Wallace family)

While saying little publicly, however, teams of experts and inspectors from several international agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted tests Thursday at the Bahia Principe properties where U.S. tourists died. It was unclear whether they inspected other resorts. The FBI confirmed to Fox News on Friday it was assisting Dominican authorities in investigating the deaths.

The testing and the FBI’s involvement marked the first public indications that officials in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic have considered the possibility of something other than natural causes.

Dominican officials said Schaup, Holmes and Day had pulmonary edema, a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid. They said Schaup, 41, who collapsed after having the minibar drink at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville — which is adjacent to the sister hotel where Holmes and Day died — died of a heart attack, though her family said she was healthy.

In recent days, the family of a Pennsylvania woman who was vacationing in the Dominican Republic last year said she died in her room at the Bahia Principe Resort in Punta Cana resort after she had a drink from the minibar. Relatives of Yvette Monique Sport, 51, told Fox 29 Philadelphia she was visiting the popular tourist spot last June, had a drink, later went to bed, and never woke up. Her death certificate said her official cause of death was a heart attack.

“It’s a complete fabrication,” Felecia Nieves, Sport’s sister, said, “that you could have as many people and they all have the same cookie-cutter outcome. It’s impossible.”

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Nieves said she planned to reach out to other families and press for answers.

“This is about justice for people that we love,” she said. “We’re never going to get them back but we can give them justice.”

Westlake Legal Group Wallace-4 California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article   Westlake Legal Group Wallace-4 California man died in April at Dominican Republic resort after drink from hotel room minibar, family says fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente b7ab1131-56a5-58ad-ad29-66dc63404999 article

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Pennsylvania woman, 51, died in similar circumstances as three American tourists at Dominican resort a year ago

The family of a Pennsylvania woman who was vacationing in the Dominican Republic last year says she died in her room at a resort that is part of a popular hotel chain where the deaths of three other U.S. tourists last month are under investigation.

Relatives of Yvette Monique Sport, 51, told Fox29 Philadelphia she was visiting the popular tourist spot last June, and stayed at the Bahia Principe Resort in Punta Cana. They say that Sport had a drink from the mini bar inside her room, later went to bed, and never woke up.

The report of Sport’s death comes on the heels of the known deaths of three U.S. tourists in five days that occurred in their rooms at hotels owned by the Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts group.

Her death certificate listed “heart attack” as the cause.

DOMINICAN RESORT CLAIMS US TOURIST WENT PUBLIC WITH ASSAULT ALLEGATION AFTER IT REFUSED HER DEMAND FOR $2.2 MILLION

“She was 51 years of age, relatively healthy, no reason for her to go on vacation and die so suddenly,” her sister, Felecia Nieves, told FOX 29.

The details of her actions preceding her death are identical to that of Miranda Schaup-Werner of Allentown, Penn., who collapsed and died on May 25 after having a drink from the room mini bar. Five days later, on May 30, another couple, Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead in their room.

Westlake Legal Group Grand-Bahia-Principe-Punta-Cana-2 Pennsylvania woman, 51, died in similar circumstances as three American tourists at Dominican resort a year ago fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/us fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente ba494c12-8249-5580-b0ca-6810591d86be article

Relatives of Yvette Monique Sport, 51, said she was visiting the popular tourist spot last June, and stayed at the Bahia Principe Resort in Punta Cana. They say that Sport had a drink from the mini bar inside her room, later went to bed, and never woke up. (Bahia Principe Hotels)

Schaup died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, Holmes and Day died at the adjacent Bahia Principe La Romana.

“It makes me question at this point is this cause of death even true,” Nieves said.

Sport was vacationing there with her fiancé, Howard Taltoan, and their friends.

PENNSYLVANIA WOMAN DIED AT SAME DOMINICAN RESORT COMPLEX FIVE DAYS BEFORE MARYLAND COUPLE IN SIMILAR CIRCUMSTANCES

“We were promised within three months that we would receive a toxicology report to this day, which is almost a year now we’ve got nothing,” Nieves said.

“I think the State Department needs to step in and investigate these deaths something is not right,” Taltoan said.

Referring to other deaths at hotels in the same chain, Nieves said: “It makes me question at this point is this cause of death even true?”

MARYLAND COUPLE FOUND DEAD IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HOTEL ROOM

The report noted that U.S. federal data show that in 2018, 13 American deaths were reported in the Dominican Republican. It did not include Sport’s death because it was declared by Dominican authorities to have been caused by natural causes.

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Fox News asked the Bahia Principe group on Tuesday if other Americans have died on its properties in the last two years. They have not yet responded.

Westlake Legal Group Grand-Bahia-Principe-Punta-Cana-2 Pennsylvania woman, 51, died in similar circumstances as three American tourists at Dominican resort a year ago fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/us fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente ba494c12-8249-5580-b0ca-6810591d86be article   Westlake Legal Group Grand-Bahia-Principe-Punta-Cana-2 Pennsylvania woman, 51, died in similar circumstances as three American tourists at Dominican resort a year ago fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/americas fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/pennsylvania fox-news/us fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente ba494c12-8249-5580-b0ca-6810591d86be article

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Chicago has most violent weekend this year: 52 shot, 10 dead

Days after officials touted a slight decrease in crime, Chicago saw its most violent weekend of the year, with 52 people reportedly shot — including 10 fatally.

The violent spree occurred just days after authorities highlighted a nine percent drop in crime compared to the first five months of 2018.

BABY CUT FROM CHICAGO MOM’S WOMB IMPROVING IN HOSPITAL

Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Monday that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson ordered targeted patrols in certain areas in response to several gang-related incidents since Friday. Guglielmi says those efforts have netted 18 arrests and 92 seized guns since Friday evening.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said she’s considering replacing Johnson, but will not decide until after a more thorough study of the city’s problems, according to WGN-TV.

COMPUTER FINDS STRIKING SIMILARITIES IN CHICAGO COLD CASES

Guglielmi said police are questioning several people of interest in some of the incidents and detectives have good leads in others. Police have asked anyone with information to contact them.

Westlake Legal Group f45d2f50-ContentBroker_contentid-a7c548d02a0d495882e7678f92221864 Chicago has most violent weekend this year: 52 shot, 10 dead fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime/chicagos-crime-wave fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/chicago fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente dc1b300e-f08e-5c47-8603-bab201c21b99 article

A memorial of flowers, balloons, a cross and photo of victim Marlen Ochoa-Lopez, are displayed on the lawn, Friday, May 17, 2019 in Chicago, outside the home where Ochoa-Lopez was murdered last month. Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy says a pregnant Ochoa-Lopez, who was killed and whose baby was cut from her womb, was strangled while being shown a photo album of the late son and brother of her attackers. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)

On Twitter, Guglielmi assailed a program known as I-Bond that allows Cook County offenders to be released on a no-cash bond. The program was implemented in 1982 to address jail overcrowding.

But critics long have said it provides criminals a fast way to get back on the streets.

“Letting gun offenders out on I-Bonds shows there is absolutely no repercussion for carrying illegal guns in Chicago,” Guglielmi tweeted Sunday.

Northwestern University reportedly sent an alert to students and faculty Saturday after several people were shot near the Gold Coast campus.

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Homicide numbers in Chicago had been continuing a downward trend over the last two years. There were more than 200 fewer homicides in 2018 compared with 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group iStock-Chicago Chicago has most violent weekend this year: 52 shot, 10 dead fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime/chicagos-crime-wave fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/chicago fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente dc1b300e-f08e-5c47-8603-bab201c21b99 article   Westlake Legal Group iStock-Chicago Chicago has most violent weekend this year: 52 shot, 10 dead fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/us/crime/chicagos-crime-wave fox-news/travel/vacation-destinations/chicago fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente dc1b300e-f08e-5c47-8603-bab201c21b99 article

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Swimsuit model streaks Champions League final to promote beau’s adult website

All eyes at Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final in Madrid briefly turned away from the Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur players and on to a scantily-clad Russian swimsuit model who ran onto the field to promote her boyfriend’s adult website.

Kinsey Wolanski made it halfway across the pitch during her first half intrusion before security guards caught up with and removed her. Her tiny black swimsuit bore the phrase “Vitaly Uncensored,” the name of boyfriend Vital Zdorovetskiy’s adult website, which has 32 million registered users, according to published reports.

SOCCER TEAM APOLOGIZES FOR INVITING STRIPPER INTO LOCKER ROOM FOR CELEBRATION 

The stunt grew Wolanski’s Instagram following from about 250,000 users to more than 1 million, according to The Sun.

“You guys I can’t even fathom what is going on right now, I feel amazing and so thankful, I really could cry,” Wolanski posted in a thank-you message on her account. “I really did this just because I really want to push myself out my comfort zone, I love that feeling – that adrenaline feeling and doing crazy things.

“I love to do crazy things all the time, but I never thought it would get to this scale and all of your support and messages and everything is so amazing.”

But by Sunday, Instagram had suspended Wolanski’s account.

Westlake Legal Group Kinsey-Wolanski-GettyImages-1153082889 Swimsuit model streaks Champions League final to promote beau's adult website fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc Elizabeth Llorente article a3486d0b-484f-58ae-917d-527d382e9038

Wolanski is taken off the pitch by security (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Zdorovetsky himself stole the show at the 2014 World Cup final between German and Argentina when he ran onto the field, exposing his bare chest, which had the scrawled message “Natural born prankster.”

Zdorovetsky, who is 27 and also of Russian descent, expressed approval of his girlfriend’s stunt at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, saying on his Instagram “I can’t wait to marry you.”

Westlake Legal Group Kinsey-Wolanski-GettyImages-1147600651 Swimsuit model streaks Champions League final to promote beau's adult website fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox-news/sports/soccer fox news fnc/sports fnc Elizabeth Llorente article a3486d0b-484f-58ae-917d-527d382e9038

Kinsey Wolanski runs on the field during Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final. (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Wolanski, who is 22, has appeared in Sports Illustrated and Maxim, among other publications.

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Zdorovetsky’s social media accounts have attracted millions of followers.

Liverpool defeated Tottenham, 2-0, to win their sixth European Cup/Champions League title, third-most of any European club team and trailing only Real Madrid and AC Milan.

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Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room

A Maryland couple has been found dead in their hotel room in the Dominican Republic.

The news of the death of Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day, who were engaged and had posted numerous photos on social media showing how much they were enjoying their vacation, comes just days after a Delaware woman said that that she was assaulted while vacationing in the Dominican Republic earlier this year. It also comes weeks after the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for Americans traveling there, citing a rise in crime.

The bodies of Holmes, 63, and Day, 49, were found Thursday by an employee of the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana who went to their room after they failed to check out, according to multiple published reports. The couple were scheduled to return to the U.S. that day.

CNN reported that a spokesman for the Dominican Republic National Police, Frank Felix Duran Mejia, said there was no evidence of violence.

BODIES OF AMERICAN COUPLE MISSING IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC BELIEVED FOUND

Friends of the couple posted on Facebook that conversations with them over the phone recently indicated they were happy and excited to return home and to their future as a married couple. They arrived at the hotel on May 25.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day

The Dominican newspaper Diario Libre said that a hotel employee mentioned that Holmes contacted the front desk about feeling ill, but that the couple turned down treatment.

The Delaware woman, Tammy Lawrence-Daley, said she was attacked in Punta Cana, which is a popular tourist area. She said that her attacker wore a uniform that indicated he was an employee of the all-inclusive resort in which she was saying.

Lawrence-Daley, who said she was vacationing in the Dominican Republic with her husband and some friends, posted photos of her bruised and swollen face on Facebook. She suffered a broken nose, other facial fractures and bites on her body, among other things, she said.

WOMAN SHARES HORRIFYING STORY, PICTURES AFTER ALLEGED ATTACK

She told the Associated Press that she went public about the attack, which she said occurred in January, to heighten awareness about the dangers of visiting the country, even for tourists staying at an all-inclusive resort.

Westlake Legal Group Holmes-Day-FB2 Maryland couple found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/travel/regions/caribbean fox-news/travel fox-news/entertainment/genres/crime fox news fnc/us fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 6e976224-76c2-5930-8a61-b4b322b3df10

Edward Holmes and Cynthia Day

Lawrence-Daley said the attack happened when she was walking on the property at about 10:30 p.m. to buy a snack. She said the man who attacked her came at her from behind and forced her into a maintenance room. She said the hotel employees were slow to act when her husband and friends reported that she had not returned to the room. Security workers eventually found her in the maintenance room, she said.

In March, a New York couple visiting the Dominican Republican was reported missing after they did not get on their flight home even though they checked out of their hotel at the scheduled time. Weeks later, National Police commander Frank Félix Duran Mejía said that the couple apparently had gotten into an accident, possibly due to a mix of speeding, alcohol and dark roads. Orlando Moore, 43, and Portia Ravenelle, 32, had planned a four-day getaway and also had posted photos of their vacation on social media, praising the trip. The couple’s car was retrieved from the sea, and Moore’s decomposed body was recovered from the water. Ravenelle reportedly had ended up at a hospital, where she died.

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Tammy Lawrence-Daley after an attack at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in January 2019. Lawrence-Daley made the attack public on social media, detailing a vicious hours-long assault by a man she said was wearing the uniform of an all-inclusive resort. (Chris Daley via AP)

New York Reps. Adriano Espaillat and Eliot Engel wrote FBI Director Christopher Wray, indicating they wanted more evidence that the tragedy was an accident, and asking that the agency “work quickly to conduct a thorough investigation regarding details of their reported deaths that raise questions for us,” according to the New York Daily News.

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The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the Dominican Republic in April, urging those visiting there to “exercise increased caution…due to crime.”

“Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” the advisory said. “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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