U.S. Authorities Say Dominican Republic Tourist Deaths Were Of Natural Causes
Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of State announced Friday that at least three American tourists who perished in the Dominican Republic died of natural causes.
In the announcement, they said that Dominican authorities had sought assistance with the investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ABC News reported.
*“*In this instance, the toxicology findings from the FBI were able to rule out several potential causes of death for Cynthia Day and Nathaniel Holmes, including methanol poisoning from tainted alcohol,” the State Department said in a written statement.
“The laboratory in Quantico and investigators in the Dominican Republic conducted thorough and time-consuming efforts, and none of the chemicals identified as possible toxins were found,” they said.
The deaths were the first three of 11 Americans who have died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic this year, which set off a panic about whether it was safe to visit the island and speculation about potentially tainted alcohol in hotel mini bars, ABC News reported.
The FBI became involved after it was revealed that three Americans had died in a five-day period in May.
On May 25, 41-year-old Miranda Schaup-Werner started feeling poorly and died in her hotel room two hours after she checked into the at Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in San Pedro de Macoris, The Washington Post reported.
Schaup-Werner had a drink from her minibar before she collapsed.
A Maryland couple – 63-year-old Edward Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Day – checked into a sister resort, the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, the same day that Schaup-Werner arrived and died, according to The Washington Post.
Five days later, on May 30, Holmes and Day were found dead in their hotel room at the resort adjacent to the one where Schaup-Werner died.
Autopsy results released by the Dominican government showed all three people suffered hemorrhaging, pulmonary edema, and enlarged hearts, The Washington Post reported.
Back in June, U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Robin Bernstein said that the deaths were extremely rare on an island visited by 2.7 American annually, WUSA reported.
"Unfortunately, sometimes these things happen to people," Bernstein said.
In their announcement, the State Department said FBI toxicology tests had determined that Schaup-Werner, Holmes, and Day had all died of the same natural causes, ABC News reported.
Those results were consistent with the findings of the authorities in the Dominican Republic.
A spokesman for the Holmes and Day families said that the authorities have not contacted them, ABC News reported.
"The Day and Holmes families have not been provided with any information from the FBI or the Dominican Republic Authorities regarding the deaths," Steven Bullock said in a statement. "The only information that has been received by the families is what is being reported in the media. Our investigation is continuing, and we will not have any further comment until we receive the results of our investigation. Thank you."
The State Department said the families have, in fact, been notified of the FBI’s toxicology results and called the deaths “tragic” but “unrelated,” according to ABC News.
"Toxicology test results to date have been provided by the FBI to Dominican authorities, and family members of the deceased have been informed,” the State Department said. “The results of the additional, extensive toxicology testing completed to date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities. Our condolences and sympathy go out to the families during this difficult time.”
The State Department referred any additional questions about the deaths to authorities in the Dominican Republic, and said that the “Dominican National Police investigation has not found any indications of violence or foul play linked to these deaths.”
Holmes’ and Day’s bodies were returned to the United States for burial on the same day the announcement was made, ABC News reported.