Another U.S. tourist dead in the Dominican Republic: Long Island pizzeria owner ‘in good health’ the latest in spate of unexplained deaths

A Long Island man who was reportedly in good health before he traveled to the Dominican Republic is the latest American tourist to die under suspicious circumstances.

Fox News reports that Vittorio Caruso, a 56-year-old pizzeria owner from Glen Cove, Long Island, died on June 17 at theBoca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.

According to the report, Caruso went into respiratory distress after taking a drink, though it is unclear what it was or where he got the drink.

“We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something,” Lisa Maria Caruso, Vittorio’s sister-in-law, told the news station.”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.”

“This was a complete shock to us, as Vittorio was not a sick person,” she said.

The New York Daily News and Fox News cite Caruso’s death as the 11th questionable death among American tourists in the Dominican Republic within the last year, though there have been additional reports of deaths that bring the number to over a dozen, including the death of a Queens woman who was diabetic and required dialysis, but did not receive it when she was taken for medical treatment following symptoms of a severe stomach illness.

Dominican Republic officials have reportedly insisted that the spate of deaths are all isolated incidents and that tourists died of natural causes.

Caruso is reportedly the third American tourist to die in the Dominican Republic in the last week. His is also the third death that is believed to have occurred after a tourist took a drink; in two other cases, the tourists had a drink from a hotel minibar before falling ill.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed Caruso’s death to CBS 2 and said his precise cause of death remains unconfirmed at this time.

Caruso’s older brother Frank Caruso told Fox News that his brother was in good health before he left for his trip roughly six weeks ago.

“He went to the doctor before he left, and he had no problems,” Frank Caruso said. “I spoke to the doctor. He called me when he found out he died, and he said he did not see anything wrong before he left. He could not believe the news.”

Caruso’s sister-in-law told Fox News that Dominican authorities had wanted to cremate the body, but the family insisted that the body sent back to the United States.

Caruso was reportedly set to return home from his vacation on June 27.