Yet another American has died under mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic, reports NBC Philadelphia. This brings the death toll up to six people over the past two months. The most recent fatality, Joseph Allen, was a native of New Jersey, who was on a holiday in the Caribbean island for a friend’s birthday.
His family said that he felt ill after going for a dip in the pool and retired for bed early. When Allen did not answer calls or texts the next morning, they asked the hotel to perform a wellness check.
“The maid opened the door, screamed, slammed the door,” Jason Allen, the deceased’s brother, said.
“My brother is on the floor dead between his room and the bathroom.”
Allen’s family said that he was healthy and recently passed a physical exam. They are currently attempting to get his body back to the United States so a comprehensive autopsy can be performed.
Allen’s death marks the ninth death of an American under “mysterious circumstances” over the past 18 months — with six of those fatalities occurring in the past two months.
According to The Washington Post, the first victim of the strange trend was 67-year-old Robert Bell Wallace. The California native died in mid-April after getting sick at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. Next was Miranda Schaup-Werner, a 41-year-old from Pennsylvania, who died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in late May. In both cases, family members said that Schaup-Werner and Bell Wallace had felt ill after imbibing from their hotels’ mini-bars.
Husband and wife Nathaniel Edward Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day died on their dream vacation to the tropical island in late May. The sixth was Staten Island Resident Leyla Cox, who died a week ago from a ruled heart attack. Her son has questioned the cause of death.
The State Department has issued a statement concerning the string of deaths, saying that it is working with authorities from the Dominican Republic to help with the investigations.
“The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo is actively working with the Government of the Dominican Republic and the private sector at the highest levels to ensure that U.S. citizens are safe and feel safe while in the Dominican Republic,” the state department said.
The FBI is also helping provide further toxicology analysis, helping spur rumors that poisoning might be the cause of deaths. In an interview with The New York Times, Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said that the symptoms that have been reported with many of the cases were “consistent” with poisoning.
“It’s rare for travelers to die of unknown causes like this, and to have a high number of them in a relatively short period of time is alarming, shocking, sad,” he said, adding that it was “unconscionable and inexplicable,” that the preliminary toxicology reports had not already been released.