Travelers at a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico suspect that they were served tainted alcohol or drugged while on their dream vacation. The Wisconsin family’s vacation turned into a nightmare just two hours after arriving at the resort when their 20-year-old daughter was found unconscious in the resort pool. The daughter, Abbey Conner, would later be pronounced dead from “accidental drowning” with the blame placed on too much alcohol. However, could there be more to the story?
According to the Journal Sentinel, John and Ginny McGowan were at the five-star Iberostar Paraiso del Mar with Ginny’s 20-year-old daughter, Abbey Conner, and 22-year-old son, Austin Conner. The family was hoping to escape the harsh winter in Wisconsin by taking a holiday on the sunny beaches of Mexico. However, their vacation would quickly take a turn for the worse when both Abbey and Austin failed to meet their parents in the hotel lobby on time. The parents would soon learn that Abbey and Austin had been taken by ambulance to a hospital after both were found unconscious in the resort pool.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) July 21, 2017
Mother Ginny notes that everything transpired quickly, and the family is seeking answers after the resort failed to provide surveillance, witnesses or details on what happened to the siblings while at the pool. Austin was taken to the hospital alongside his sister after he was found face down in the pool. Austin says he remembers very little from the ordeal but notes that the pair were drinking. However, he says that he feels their drinks must have been tainted or drugged because he has never blacked out as he did at the Iberostar despite having drunk more in the past.
While typically a case such as this would just be chalked up to an accident as alcohol and water are the sources of many accidental drownings, the family says that the lack of information being provided by the resort and the area police have made them skeptical about Abbey’s death. The family says the resort claims there are no surveillance cameras at the pool and has yet to explain why the police never interviewed witnesses at the pool.
Instead, the family says they were left with a hefty medical bill and no answers from law enforcement. To make matters worse, Ginny says the hotel never called and apologized and acted as though the death of Abbey was “no big deal.”
“Did both Abbey and Austin get so drunk in one hour before meeting their parents for dinner that Abbey drowned in chest-deep water, unnoticed by staff or tourists? Did everyone just disappear that quickly? Where were the witnesses?”
Interestingly, the story isn’t all that unique. In fact, numerous other tourists in the area of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, including several at the same Iberostar hotel, have claimed similar accidents took place with each traveler unable to remember the details leading up to their ordeal. One couple reports that after having just a few drinks at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya bar, the pair blacked out and later woke in their hotel room five hours later. The woman had been sexually assaulted, her husband had a broken hand, and the doctors said it appeared he had hit someone. However, the woman said she drank just two mojitos from the bar while her husband had three beers.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that in my 30s, and my husband in his 40s — he’s 6-3, 220 pounds — we would be sitting at a five-star resort, that there was ever a possibility not only that we could be drugged, but that any harm could come to me.”
The pair feels they must have been drugged as they did not consume enough alcohol to experience a blackout and feel it is suspicious that they both blacked out at the exact same time. The pair says they reported the incident to hotel staff but were told to go to the hospital and to take cash.
— Intl. Business Times (@IBTimes) July 21, 2017
As KENS5 reports, the common theme among tourists in the area who experience similar incidents is that the tourists are told to go to specific medical facilities with cash. Therefore, some have speculated that the hotels are serving tainted alcohol and working in conjunction with certain hospitals to boost their business. Interestingly, when Abbey and Austin Conner were taken by ambulance for treatment following the drowning, they were not taken to the closest hospital nor did it have the biggest emergency care center in the area. Instead, they were taken to a small medical facility 14 miles away.
In at least three reported cases, vacationers reported that local hospitals, part of the Hospiten chain, appeared to be gouging them. The hospitals would demand large sums of cash, and one tourist was told to take a cab to an ATM in the middle of the night to pay.
So, is it possible that the alcohol that Abbey Conner drank was tainted? A 2015 report from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service found that 43 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the nation is illegal, produced under unregulated circumstances resulting in potentially dangerous concoctions. In fact, a 2017 report by a Commission charged with the protection against health risks notes that 1.4 million gallons of alcohol have bee seized by Mexican authorities for being tainted and unsafe. However, this alcohol was not all found on the black market. It is reported that alcohol has been found at establishments ranging from small eateries to hotels and large resorts.
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) July 21, 2017
Maureen Webster, who launched the site Mexicovacationawareness.com, blames the US government for not being more proactive about ensuring American tourists know about the potential dangers at Mexican resorts. Webster lost her 22-year-old son nearly 10 years ago after he also drowned at a Mexican resort.
“Every time, every single time, something bad happens, they (Mexican resorts and authorities) blame the victim. They say ‘They were drunk, they were drunk, they were drunk, they were drunk.’ Every single time. Shame on the (U.S.) government for not making this an issue. It’s a big problem.”
In the case of Webster’s son, when police were little to no help, the grieving mother began gathering statements from witnesses at the pool at the time of her son’s death. What she discovered was nothing short of sickening to the women who had just lost a child. She says dozens of witnesses say that her son, Nolan, was not drunk, with one witness, a Canadian nurse, noting that she attempted to give the young man CPR, but the resort officials forced her to stop. She claims that Nolan was still breathing when she tried to provide emergency assistance, but the resort staff forbid her from continuing and did nothing but watch the young man die.
Do you think the U.S. State Department should get involved in cases such as these to ensure that American tourists are not being preyed upon by resorts and medical facilities?
[Featured Image by quavondo/ istockimages]