Dominican Republic Calls Deaths 'Fake News,' Claim They've Been Set Up
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Dominican government officials have claimed that the Maryland woman found dead with her fiance in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana resort in May died from the shock of finding her intended husband dead.
Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health Spokesman Carlos Suero labeled reports of a series of mysterious tourist deaths on the island “fake news” on Wednesday, FOX News reported.
Suero claimed that Nathaniel Holmes died first and then Cynthia Day died “probably from the shock of seeing the person beside her dead,” the New York Post reported.
He said that Holmes and Day’s deaths, as well as the other American tourist who died in their country in recent months, shouldn’t be blamed on the Caribbean island.
And the spokesman called Holmes and Day “a special medical case” because of prescription medication that was found in their room, the New York Post reported.
“There were many bottles of prescription medication in their room,” Suero said. “They practically carried around a pharmacy with them. They had pills for blood pressure, for the heart, they had anti-depressants. When you get on an airplane and travel with all that medical [baggage], this can happen.”
Dominican authorities said Holmes and Day’s autopsies showed they both died of pulmonary edema and respiratory failure. Day also suffered cerebral edema, according to the New York Post.
Suero said Holmes contacted the hotel the day before he died and said he didn’t feel well, but then declined to see a doctor after he was told how much it would cost, FOX News reported.
Their families plan to have second autopsies performed in the United States.
Suero said that government health inspectors have tested the food, alcohol, pool water, air conditioning and other areas at the properties where tourists have died, FOX News reported.
He said everything came back negative.
“It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism, this is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists, we are a popular destination,” Suero said. “People are taking aim at us.”
“The testing results are all negative, everything – the food, the alcohol, the air – is normal, there is no alteration of the alcohol,” he said. “With all the tourists we get every year, we make sure we comply with international standards for everything.”
Dominican Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said the way the deaths were being reported was “un montaje” (setup) aimed at “hurting tourism,” FOX News reported.
Authorities on the island have said since the beginning that the deaths of American tourists were isolated incidents.
Suero said that tourists who died, ranging from ages 41 to 78, all expired from natural causes, FOX News reported.
“People die all over the world,” the government spokesman said. “Unfortunately, very unfortunately for us, these tourists have died here. We had about 14 deaths last year here of U.S. tourists, and no one said a word. Now everyone is making a big deal of these.”
However, the statistics to which Suero referred excluded deaths by natural causes, as the Dominican Republic has labeled all the recent tourist deaths, so it does not accurately reflect how many U.S. citizens total died on the island last year, FOX News reported.
Suero said the island should not be blamed for deaths that would have occurred anywhere those people happened to be at the time they died.
“I went to the United States and got an infection in my throat, but luckily I was returning to the Dominican Republic soon after,” he said. “If I’d died, would I have been right to blame the United States? No.”
Earlier in June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) joined the investigation into the deaths of at least six American tourists vacationing in hotels in the Dominican Republic over the last year.
Since that time, a number of additional victims’ families have come forward with suspicions that their loved ones’ deaths in the Dominican Republic may have been connected to the recent ones.
The problem first came to the attention of U.S. authorities after it was revealed that three Americans had died in a five-day period in May.