Between a string of tourist deaths — and more being called into question as a result — plus the shooting of famed Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, the Dominican Republic has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. And it’s concerning potential tourists.
Recent incidents are putting the Dominican Republic in the headlines. In May, within a week, a Maryland couple vacationing in the Dominican Republic was found dead in their hotel room, and a woman from Pennsylvania died at the same hotel chain. On top of that, one hotel is disputing the timeline of an alleged attack of a Delaware woman that also came out that week.
Although these incidents may not be related, people remain on edge. Here’s a look at recent headlines from the Caribbean nation:
The director of the National Police, General Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte, talks to the press at the hospital where former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was hospitalized after being shot in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, June 9, 2019. (Photo: The Associated Press)
- January: Tammy Lawrence-Daley of Delaware, posted May 29 to Facebook that in January a man in a uniform bearing the logo of her Punta Cana hotel, the Majestic Elegance Resort, attacked her and then dragged her into a basement maintenance room, where he assaulted her badly enough to warrant a five-day hospital stay. The hotel has since said that she demanded $2.2 million in compensation before going public with her story several months later.
- April: The U.S. State Department confirmed to Fox News and The Washington Post that a U.S. citizen died in the Dominican Republic in April, but did not provide additional details.
- May 25: Miranda Schaup-Werner from Pennsylvania collapsed after consuming a drink from the minibar at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, according to Fox News and Pennsylvania TV station WFMZ. The U.S. State Department confirmed her death to USA TODAY. Although a cause of death has not yet been confirmed, the Dominican Republic attorney general said she had a heart attack, according to CNN.
- May 30: Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day, a couple from Maryland, were found unresponsive in their room by staff at the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana after they didn’t check out at the expected time. In addition to fluid in their lungs, preliminary autopsy results revealed each had internal bleeding, reports CNN. Holmes was found to have an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver , while Day had fluid in her brain.
- June 9: According to a statement released by the Dominican National Police on Monday morning, Ortiz was at a bar in Santo Domingo, the capital of the country, when he was shot in the back by an attacker on a motorcycle. The 43-year-old was later taken to a local hospital for surgery, and he is now in stable condition.
David Ortiz shooting: What we know about the incident, and former Red Sox star’s condition
Updates: David Ortiz expected to be transported to Boston after shooting
The string of incidents has also caused family members to question a death from last June. Yvette Monique Sport of Pennsylvania died last June at a Bahia Principe hotel, according to reports from FOX29 and NBC10. Sports’ sister, Felecia Nieves, spoke to the outlets about how her sister drank from the mini bar in her hotel room and didn’t wake up again.
“I think the state department needs to step in and investigate these deaths; something is not right,” Howard Taltoan, Sport’s fiance, told FOX29. Dominican Republic authorities considered her death to be a heart attack.
The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism has not responded to multiple requests for comment from USA TODAY. Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia told CNN on Thursday that Schaup-Werner’s, Holmes’ and Day’s deaths were “isolated incidents” and that the country is safe.
“This is a place to be avoided when you are booking your holidays,” one Twitter user wrote.
“the whole dominican republic needs to be under investigation at this point,” another wrote.
the whole dominican republic needs to be under investigation at this point
One Twitter user reminded people, however, that one person’s actions are not reason enough to blame the whole country. “I dont (sic) wanna see any slander about the Dominican Republic on the TL, its a terrible take to blame the whole country for one persons idiocy.”
The U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic, which shares a border with Haiti, as a level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system.
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester and Tom Schad, USA TODAY; Jessica Bies, Delaware News Journal
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