Symptoms that preceded mysterious deaths of tourists in Dominican Republic are ‘consistent with poisoning,’ doctor says

As authorities are investigating a spate of mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic, a medical expert has weighed in on the possible cause of death of six American tourists who have died at the popular vacation spot within the last year.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, the families of six Americans who died while staying in various hotels in the Caribbean tourist destination are questioning the circumstances of their sudden deaths. Three of the Americans, an engaged couple and a 41-year-old Pennsylvania woman, died just days apart at a two separate Baha Principe resort properties this spring. Another woman reportedly died of a heart attack while staying at a Baha Principe property in June 2018 after taking a drink from the minibar.

Two deaths have been linked to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana: A 45-year-old man reportedly died of a heart attack and pulmonary edema while celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife and their son, and a 67-year-old man died in April after drinking a scotch from the minibar. Prior to his death, that man reportedly became very ill and had blood and urine in his stool.

According to multiple reports, the families of the deceased tourists have said they were all healthy or relatively healthy prior to their vacations. In cases where Dominican Authorities have released a cause of death, the tourists died of either heart failure, respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, or a combination of those causes.

In addition to the tourists deaths, a Pennsylvania couple has come forward to say that they experienced symptoms they first believed to be the result of food poisoning during their stay at the Baha Principe hotel last June. Susie Lauterborn reportedly experienced fever, vomiting, cold sweats, and a rash, while her husband Doug Hand suffered less severe symptoms. Hand told CBS3 Philadelphia that he recalled a strange, “moldy” smell upon the couple’s arrival to the hotel room.

As the New York Times reports, the Baha Principe resort released a statement claiming that the reports of the deaths were inaccurate, though the report did not elaborate on how. The statement also said that resort representatives would be “collaborating completely with the authorities and hope for a prompt resolution of their inquiries and actions.”

According to the Washington Post, the FBI is reportedly working with authorities in the Dominican Republic to facilitate toxicology tests for the four tourists who died in the last few months –– three at Baha Principe hotels and one at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.

The New York Times spoke to Tom Ingelsby, M.D., the CEO and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who said it was too soon to say definitively what contributed to the sudden deaths of the travelers. But he did note that symptoms like vomiting and pulmonary edema are “consistent with poisoning,” which he said could have been accidental.

“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,” Dr. Inglesby told the newspaper. “It’s something that investigators should be able to get to the bottom of.”

Dr. Inglesby also said it was “unconscionable and inexplicable” that toxicology reports are not yet available.