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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Elizabeth Llorente"

Elderly couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide, note says they could not afford medical care

A Washington state man allegedly killed himself after killing his wife, and left a note for authorities saying that he was driven to do so because they could not afford to pay for medical care for her serious health conditions.

The man, identified by the Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel in a statement to Fox News as Brian S. Jones, was 77, and his wife, Patricia Whitney-Jones, was 76.

Brian Jones called police on Wednesday morning to say that he was going to kill himself, and told the dispatcher that authorities would find a note in his home with an explanation as well as instructions. The dispatcher unsuccessfully tried to keep him on the telephone, according to the Bellingham Herald.

Westlake Legal Group Patricia-Whitney-Jones-Brian-Jones-Facebook Elderly couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide, note says they could not afford medical care fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health fox news fnc/us fnc fcbbbfe2-1ca0-5f1b-b4ea-c78df9b9e510 Elizabeth Llorente article

Patricia Whitney-Jones and Brian Jones (Facebook)

“It’s very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option,” Sheriff Bill Elfo said in a statement.

TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER CALLING FOR UPFRONT DISCLOSURE OF HOSPITAL COSTS

Upon entering the home, police found the couple lying side by side, the newspaper said. Jones allegedly shot his wife once, and himself three times — including once in the head — with a semi-automatic handgun, according to the medical examiner statement to Fox News. The statement said both had “significant natural health disease conditions.”

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A neighbor, Sherrie Schulteis, told the Lynden Tribune that despite many friendly conversations with Brian Jones, she was surprised to learn of their struggles. She said their deaths had shocked the neighborhood.

“[Brian and I] were always waving and talking about our yards or our flowers,” Schulteis said. “It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other.”

Westlake Legal Group Patricia-Whitney-Jones-Brian-Jones-Facebook Elderly couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide, note says they could not afford medical care fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health fox news fnc/us fnc fcbbbfe2-1ca0-5f1b-b4ea-c78df9b9e510 Elizabeth Llorente article   Westlake Legal Group Patricia-Whitney-Jones-Brian-Jones-Facebook Elderly couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide, note says they could not afford medical care fox-news/us/us-regions/west/washington fox-news/us/crime/police-and-law-enforcement fox-news/health fox news fnc/us fnc fcbbbfe2-1ca0-5f1b-b4ea-c78df9b9e510 Elizabeth Llorente article

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Brazilian president considering his Trump-supporting son to be U.S. ambassador

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has indicated that he may nominate his son, Eduardo, to be the ambassador to the United States.

Eduardo Bolsonaro is currently a congressman in Brazil, and has indicated that he would serve if his father desired him to do so.

President Bolsonaro said at a news conference that nominating his son is, in his words, “something on my radar. Yes, it’s possible.”

His son, who is 35, has told reporters that he would accept, “if it is a mission given by the president,” according to The Guardian.

BRAZIL MOVES VENEZUELA AID TO BORDER DESPITE CLOSURE

The younger Bolsonaro noted that filling the post, which has been vacant since Jan. 1, when Jair Bolsonaro became president, will not happen until he discusses it with his father and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-3161e4033b6148e7bd3045183f7263b7 Brazilian president considering his Trump-supporting son to be U.S. ambassador fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/brazil fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 442e83e5-9683-51a5-a9dc-9f9f7b027a17

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro salutes during the swearing-in ceremony for the newly-named Secretary of Government, Army General Luiz Eduardo Ramos, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Thursday, July 4, 2019.  (AP)

Once that occurs, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee must vote on it and, if approved, the full Senate would vote on confirmation.

MADURO GOVERNMENT CLAIMS PLOT TO ASSASSINATE VENEZUELAN LEADER THWARTED 

Last November, Eduardo, who advises his father on foreign policy, attended meetings at the White House and wore a “Trump 2020” hat.

Some of the conservative president’s other sons are also steeped in politics. Flavio is a senator, while Carlos is a councilman in Rio de Janeiro.

Westlake Legal Group AP19193521571240 Brazilian president considering his Trump-supporting son to be U.S. ambassador fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/brazil fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 442e83e5-9683-51a5-a9dc-9f9f7b027a17

In this Friday, Feb. 1, 2019 file photo, lawmaker Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, left, takes a “selfie” during a swearing-in ceremony, at the National Assembly in Brasilia, Brazil.  (AP)

President Bolsonaro said that Eduardo is a friend of President Donald Trump’s children, speaks English and Spanish and has experience abroad.

The president said the nomination “would be the perfect message to Washington.”

Critics, however, say that it would violate laws against nepotism. They also argue he is not qualified.

President Bolsonaro has presented himself as someone who tells it like it is while promising to dismantle a dysfunctional political system and seeking to capture the imagination of many citizens afraid of losing their place in an increasingly diverse and inclusive society.

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Bolsonaro has often depended on his three eldest sons to float ideas, and deny critical press reports. Bolsonaro has one other son, from his second marriage, and a daughter, from his third and current wife.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

Westlake Legal Group Eduardo-Bolsonaro-Reuters Brazilian president considering his Trump-supporting son to be U.S. ambassador fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/brazil fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 442e83e5-9683-51a5-a9dc-9f9f7b027a17   Westlake Legal Group Eduardo-Bolsonaro-Reuters Brazilian president considering his Trump-supporting son to be U.S. ambassador fox-news/world/world-regions/latin-america fox-news/world/world-regions/brazil fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 442e83e5-9683-51a5-a9dc-9f9f7b027a17

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Dubai ruler’s wife, Princess Haya, goes into hiding in UK and hires divorce lawyer: report

Princess Haya, always considered a free spirit in the world of Middle Eastern royalty, where protocol and obscurity are expected of women, has fled her husband, the ruler of Dubai, and reportedly gone into hiding in England.

She also has hired a divorce lawyer who has worked for the British royal family, according to Business Insider.

The decision to leave her husband and Dubai arose from disturbing details the princess reportedly learned concerning one of the sheik’s daughters, who herself tried to flee Dubai last year. The daughter, Sheikha Latifa, appeared in a 40-minute video saying she had been imprisoned on and off for several years and had been abused. Her friends say she was forcibly returned after commandos stormed a boat carrying her off the coast of India when she tried to flee the Emirates.

Princess Haya’s escape was brought to light, ironically, by her husband, a poet who penned a few lines to lash out at his wayward bride – one of six and the most high-profile.

The poem, titled “You Lived and You Died” and posted by the Dubai ruler’s son, is about disloyalty, leading to speculation it is about Princess Haya.

“You betrayed the most precious trust, and your game has been revealed,” the poem says. “Your time of lying is over and it doesn’t matter what we were nor what you are.”

Westlake Legal Group Princess-Haya-Sheikh-Mohammed-Getty Dubai ruler's wife, Princess Haya, goes into hiding in UK and hires divorce lawyer: report fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 925cedf0-0b67-5862-9730-47f6529062fd

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (L), Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, arrives with his wife Princess Haya bint al-Hussein (C), to the trophy presentation in the Meydan Racecourse on March 31, 2018 in Dubai. KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

The Oxford-educated princess, who is the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, has been quite the rebel even before her very public act of “good riddance” to her billionaire racehorse owner husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The princess, who is 45, is an accomplished Olympic equestrian and is friends with Queen Elizabeth II. She married Sheik Mohammed, who is 69, in 2004. The Dubai ruler is said to have 23 children by different women.

Princess Haya’s flight paves the way for a showdown in a London courtroom later this month.

ROYAL BABIE ARCHIE HAS BROUGHT PEACE BETWEEN WILLIAM AND HARRY

The family division court hearing scheduled on July 30 is expected to focus on who will have custody of their two young children now that the princess has left Dubai.

The sheikh, who is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates in addition to being the ruler of Dubai, is among the most influential figures in the Middle East.

The harsh words of his poem about the princess caused reverberations and speculation throughout royal circles in the Middle East and beyond.

The couple has a daughter, 11, and son, 7, together. Both were educated at elite English universities and they share a love for horses.

Media reports indicate she took the children with her when she left Dubai. Under Islamic law, a woman can at least nominally retain custody of her children in a divorce. Nonetheless, decisions about schooling, travel and lifestyles of the children often remain with the father in the Middle East. Given the Dubai ruler’s power, it is unlikely Princess Haya would have had a say in her children’s ability to leave the UAE had she not reportedly fled with them.

Haya’s half-brother is Jordan’s current monarch, King Abdullah, who was pictured at her side when she wed Dubai’s ruler, reportedly becoming his sixth wife.

She is a former Olympic athlete who competed in equestrian show jumping in the 2000 Sydney Games, a taboo-breaking feat for women from traditionally Muslim countries. Her love of sports and horse riding began early — she was just 13 when she became the first female to represent Jordan internationally in equestrian show jumping.

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Haya has long stood out from other wives of Gulf Arab rulers not only because of her Jordanian royal background and Olympic ambitions, but because she was seen and photographed in public. Most rulers’ wives in the Gulf are never photographed and their faces and names aren’t known to the public. But Princess Haya wasn’t only visible at humanitarian events, often seated front row in Dubai by her husband’s side, but was a stylish fixture in glossy magazines and at prestigious equestrian events in the U.K,, like the Royal Ascot and Epsom Derby.

In a 2009 Daily Mail interview, the princess said she deliberately postponed marriage until she could meet a man “who doesn’t feel he has to mold me.”

She was quoted as saying, “You have to accept that you’re in control of yourself but not your destiny.”

The government of Dubai hasn’t commented on the media reports about Princess Haya fleeing with her children to Europe.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

Westlake Legal Group Princess-Haya-Sheikh-Mohammed-2-Getty Dubai ruler's wife, Princess Haya, goes into hiding in UK and hires divorce lawyer: report fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 925cedf0-0b67-5862-9730-47f6529062fd   Westlake Legal Group Princess-Haya-Sheikh-Mohammed-2-Getty Dubai ruler's wife, Princess Haya, goes into hiding in UK and hires divorce lawyer: report fox-news/world/world-regions/united-kingdom fox-news/travel/regions/europe fox-news/politics/foreign-policy/middle-east fox news fnc/entertainment fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 925cedf0-0b67-5862-9730-47f6529062fd

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Pope Francis and Putin meet at Vatican, discuss Syria, Ukraine

A day before he is scheduled to meet with Ukranian Catholic leaders, Pope Francis welcomed Russian  President Vladimir Putin Thursday, speaking with him for just under an hour about a variety of issues.

Francis and Putin, who met at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, discussed “various questions of relevance to the life of the Catholic Church in Russia,” the Vatican said in a statement, adding that they also covered “the ecological question and various themes relating to current international affairs, with particular reference to Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela.”

The pair also expressed their satisfaction at the development of bilateral relations during the “cordial discussions,” the Vatican said.

“Thank you for the time you have dedicated to me,” Putin told Francis.

“It was a very substantive, interesting discussion,” he told journalists present at the exchange of gifts in the private papal study.

POPE LASHES OUT AT BLOGGING AMBASSADORS, DEMANDS OBEDIENCE

The meeting, part of Putin’s one-day visit to Rome, comes a day before Catholic leaders from Ukraine gather at the Holy See to discuss the continuing conflict there and the fallout from the schism between the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.

Westlake Legal Group pope-putin-3-AP Pope Francis and Putin meet at Vatican, discuss Syria, Ukraine fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/us/religion fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/food-drink/recipes/cuisines/eastern-europe fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 7afc662b-33f7-5305-97a3-58dbab2d4668

Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican, Thursday, July 4. 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The Vatican said the aim is to lend support “in the delicate situation in which Ukraine finds itself.”

Last year, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine formally split from the Russian Orthodox Church in a schism recognized by the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians. The push for a full-fledged and independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was bolstered by fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed rebels.

Some observers believe that Putin’s visit could be a prelude to a papal visit to Russia. No pope has ever set foot in Russia, but Putin’s foreign affairs adviser said the issue wasn’t on the agenda for the visit.

Putin later met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Fonte. The bilateral meetings will be followed by a Russia-Italy forum with Conte and Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero. Putin will also meet privately with a long-time friend, former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, before returning to Moscow.

Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, who has made no secret of his admiration for Putin, will attend a dinner with Putin at Villa Madama. The two met face-to-face in Milan during Putin’s visit in 2014, in Salvini’s role as leader of the then-Northern League.

Westlake Legal Group pope-putin-2 Pope Francis and Putin meet at Vatican, discuss Syria, Ukraine fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/us/religion fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/food-drink/recipes/cuisines/eastern-europe fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 7afc662b-33f7-5305-97a3-58dbab2d4668

Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the occasion of their private audience at the Vatican, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

“The League and its leader Salvini are active supporters of a restoration of full cooperation between Russia and Italy. They have spoken for a quicker abolition of anti-Russia sanctions introduced by the U.S. and EU. Here our points of view are aligned,” Putin said.

Putin has acknowledged that U.S. and European Union sanctions have cost Russia an estimated $50 billion since 2014, but he claims that the bloc’s nations have suffered even greater damage because of the restrictions.

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The Russian president, on his first visit to Italy in four years, said in written responses to Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera that Moscow didn’t want to extend countermeasures against EU sanctions to Italy, but that it couldn’t react selectively within the World Trade Organization.

Putin said that economic relations with Italy, Russia’s fifth-largest trading partner, are expanding despite the sanctions. Italian investments in Russia so far this year have reached $4.7 billion, while Russian investments in Italy in the same period were $2.7 billion.

This story is based on a report by the Associated Press.

Westlake Legal Group pope-putin-1 Pope Francis and Putin meet at Vatican, discuss Syria, Ukraine fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/us/religion fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/food-drink/recipes/cuisines/eastern-europe fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 7afc662b-33f7-5305-97a3-58dbab2d4668   Westlake Legal Group pope-putin-1 Pope Francis and Putin meet at Vatican, discuss Syria, Ukraine fox-news/world/world-regions/russia fox-news/world/personalities/vladimir-putin fox-news/us/religion/roman-catholic fox-news/us/religion fox-news/person/pope-francis fox-news/food-drink/recipes/cuisines/eastern-europe fox news fnc/world fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 7afc662b-33f7-5305-97a3-58dbab2d4668

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Infectious disease was not cause of Texas couple’s death, Fiji health official says

Infectious disease did not kill Texas couple David and Michelle Paul during their trip to Fiji in May, said the island’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

“Investigations by the Ministry and other partners, which included post mortem examination, laboratory investigations to exclude a wide range of viral and bacterial causes, toxicology and microscopic examination of tissues, have identified no infectious causative agent,” said a statement by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services quoted by the CBS affiliate in Fort Worth, Texas.

BANGLADESHI ‘TREE MAN’ BEGS FOR HANDS TO BE AMPUTATED TO RELIEVE PAIN, REPORT

The health agency noted that people who came into contact with the couple are at no risk, as was once feared. Those who had been thought to have been at risk include hotel and health care workers, CBS reported.

Westlake Legal Group michelle-and-david-paul-fiji Infectious disease was not cause of Texas couple's death, Fiji health official says fox-news/world fox-news/travel fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/health fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 34ae0550-5b24-5c7a-9a69-7bfbf6eb594e

Michelle and David Paul

The couple’s remains are still in Fiji. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating their death.

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

On May 22, David and Michelle Paul checked into a hotel on Denarau Island. Marc Calanog, Michelle’s father, said he got a text message from her on May 24 that said: “We are both going to doctor now. We have been throwing up for eight hours. David also has diarrhea. My hands are numb.”

Westlake Legal Group Michelle-Paul-David-Paul-AP Infectious disease was not cause of Texas couple's death, Fiji health official says fox-news/world fox-news/travel fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/health fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 34ae0550-5b24-5c7a-9a69-7bfbf6eb594e

Michelle Paul and David Paul. The couple from Texas died while vacationing in Fiji. (Tracey Calanog via AP)

He said he got a call on May 25 that Michelle was dead, and that David Paul was dead two days later. Marc Calanog, told ABC News that the couple was healthy.

The ministry said, shortly after they were found dead, that it was working with the CDC, local police, and the World Health Organization to determine the cause of death.

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Fiji is home to just over 900,000 people and is a popular tourist destination thanks to its warm climate, white sand beaches and coral reefs.

Westlake Legal Group Michelle-Paul-David-Paul-AP Infectious disease was not cause of Texas couple's death, Fiji health official says fox-news/world fox-news/travel fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/health fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 34ae0550-5b24-5c7a-9a69-7bfbf6eb594e   Westlake Legal Group Michelle-Paul-David-Paul-AP Infectious disease was not cause of Texas couple's death, Fiji health official says fox-news/world fox-news/travel fox-news/health/infectious-disease fox news fnc/health fnc Elizabeth Llorente article 34ae0550-5b24-5c7a-9a69-7bfbf6eb594e

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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

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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

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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

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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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