PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Another American tourist has died under mysterious circumstances while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, bringing the number to nine to date who have died at resorts in the Caribbean nation in the past 12 months.
Update 6:10 p.m. EDT June 17: A 55-year-old New Jersey man never made it home from his vacation last week in the Dominican Republic, becoming the latest American to die there in an unusual manner.
Avenel resident Joseph Allen was found dead in his hotel room at Terra Linda in Sosua on June 13, his sister told WABC-TV.
Jamie Reed said her brother has spent a lot of time in the country over the years and went down last week to celebrate a friend's birthday, WABC reported.
Friends told Reed that Allen had complained about not feeling well before he was found dead in his hotel room the next morning.
She described Allen as “for the most part healthy” with no major medical problems.
A State Department official confirmed Allen’s death.
Original report: New York resident Leyla Cox, 53, died last week at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana, her son, William Cox, told the Staten Island Advance in an interview Friday.
“I am overwhelmed and confused and in shock,” he said.
Cox arrived in the country June 5 to celebrate her birthday and was expected home on Thursday, but she never returned. Her son said she died Monday, according to CBS News, and the U.S. State Department confirmed she died from a heart attack, the same cause of death as most of the other victims so far.
The increasing number of American deaths in the Dominican Republic and the number of tourists reporting severe illness during trips there, prompted the U.S. Embassy to issue a statement last week, news outlets reported.
“The safety and security of US citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority,” Ambassador Robin Bernstein said. “These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted.”
WKYC-TV reported last week that Jerry Curran, 78, of Florida, died in late January in the Dominican Republic, just days after he and his wife, Janet, arrived at Punta Cana's Dreams Resort.
His daughter, Kellie Brown, told the station that Curran fell ill after having dinner and drinks Jan. 22. Three days later, doctors said he needed surgery. Curran died eight hours after undergoing the procedure, Brown said.
Authorities said Curran died Jan. 26 of cerebral hypoxia, pulmonary edema, or a lack of oxygen to the brain, as well as pulmonary edema, brain bleeding and traumatic brain injury, WKYC reported.
Nearly three months later, Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, died April 14, three days after he had a drink from a minibar and fell sick at Punta Cana's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Fox News reported, Wallace, who was in town for his stepson's wedding, was examined by a hotel doctor and later hospitalized, Chloe Arnold, Wallace's niece, told the news outlet.
Wallace's symptoms included "blood in his urine and stool," Arnold said.
"We have so many questions," she said, adding that health officials have not told Wallace's family what caused his death.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that an American died in the Dominican Republic in April but did not offer any further information, Fox News reported.
Weeks later, Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, collapsed and died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana on May 25, WLS-TV reported.
Schaup-Werner, a psychotherapist, also had taken a drink from the hotel minibar before her death, Fox News reported.
In a June 5 statement, Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts said authorities determined that Schaub-Werner had died from a heart attack. Her husband "confirmed she had a history of heart conditions," the resorts said; however, family members told Fox News that she had been in good health.
Authorities also found that Schaub-Werner had experienced pulmonary edema, Fox News reported.
On May 30, Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, of Prince George's County, Maryland, died at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana resort, which is in the same complex as the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, according to WLS-TV.
An autopsy reportedly revealed that they died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, WJZ-TV reported. Police found medication for high blood pressure in their room but no signs of violence, the station said.
In addition, two other Americans died mysteriously last year in the Dominican Republic.
In June 2018, Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, died in bed at another Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana, WTXF-TV reported. She also had taken a drink from the hotel minibar the night before, family members said.
The following month, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – the same hotel where Wallace stayed months later, Harrison's wife told WTTG-TV.
Officials said both Sport and Harrison died of heart attacks, family members told the news outlets. An autopsy found that Harrison had experienced pulmonary edema, as well, WTTG reported.
According to CBS News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation "is assisting Dominican authorities" as they look into the deaths. So far, investigators reportedly have not found any evidence that the incidents are connected.