Dozens of members of a Jimmy Buffet fan club from Oklahoma allegedly fell ill during a trip to the Dominican Republic in April – where at least seven American tourists died in mysterious circumstances.
One of the buffet fans, Dana Flowers, says he got so sick that he lost 14 pounds and couldn't leave his room at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana.
Flowers, a local travel agent from Oklahoma City, traveled to Punta Cana as part of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, a group of buffet enthusiasts from the Tulsa and Oklahoma City region.
& # 39; We had a good time for four or five days, but by the middle of the week people started to get sick, & # 39; he said KFOR TV.
Dana Flowers, a travel agent from Oklahoma City, says he and a large group of fellow Jimmy Buffet fans fell ill during a vacation to the Dominican Republic in April
Flowers traveled to Punta Cana with the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, a group of buffet enthusiasts from the Tulsa and Oklahoma City region
The group stayed at Hotel Riu Palaca Macao in Punta Cana (shown in the image above)
& # 39; Of those 114 people, 47 have fallen ill. & # 39;
Flowers said another member of their entourage died after going to another hotel.
At the time, however, nobody knew that this was the start of an outbreak of strange incidents involving American tourists.
"We had no idea when we were there that this was all going on," said Flowers.
He said local doctors believed it could be a parasite. Although Flowers tested negative for salmonella, others in the group tested positive.
He believes that people in the group became ill due to something they drank in the pool bar at the pool or by swimming in the pool.
Flowers says he is just thankful that nobody died.
& # 39; I will not be going back to the Dominican Republic soon, & # 39; he said.
The story of flowers is similar to that of a newlywed couple.
The bride and groom say that they both fell seriously ill earlier this month after their wedding day at a resort in the Dominican Republic where two other Americans died in mysterious circumstances, forcing them to interrupt their honeymoon.
Claudia Massaranduba and fiancé Kevin Gentile, who live in the Boston area, stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana when it started to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
The newlyweds, presumably tied the knot earlier this month, told The New York Post that various members of their family also fell ill during the celebrations.
According to Flowers, 47 of the 114 people in his travel group fell ill during the holidays
Flowers said he was so sick that he lost 14 pounds and was unable to leave his room
Flowers is of the opinion that guests became ill through a drink at the pool bar in the pool or by swimming in the pool
He said local doctors believed it could be a parasite. Although Flowers tested negative for salmonella, others in the group tested positive
Two other Americans, David Harrison and Robert Bell Wallace, died in the resort in the last year.
In total, seven American vacationers died in mysterious circumstances during their vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Claudia said that Kevin was sick on the morning of their big day: & # 39; It was scary. He had a fever, chills and we were more worried about getting fluid in him than the wedding. & # 39;
Claudia claims that her bridesmaid and her 10-year-old cousin also got sick and had to pay hundreds of dollars to visit the resort's clinic before being referred to a local hospital.
She says her guests were with dozens of other guests in the hotel who fell ill that same week.
She added: & # 39; The doctor was very concerned about how she would be paid. I asked her if she would do something for my husband, except look at him and tell him to go to the hospital.
& # 39; People at the hotel were not surprised at all by our experience, which I thought was weird. That's why it seemed like a business to me when I went to the doctor. & # 39;
Claudia herself says that she fell ill then and later discovered that other members of her family, including older relatives, were also sick but did not want to spoil the couple's marriage.
The couple was then forced to shorten their honeymoon.
& # 39; Our plan was to spend our honeymoon at the resort and instead we left the day before & # 39 ;, Claudia said.
Claudia Massaranduba and fiancé Kevin Gentile stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana when it started to suffer from vomiting and diarrhea
She added: & # 39; The hardest part was that a large part of our wedding had the family together and it was taken away from us. Instead, I was stuck in our room with the fact that my husband got sick. & # 39;
Leyla Cox, 53, from New Brighton became the seventh American last year and dies in mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic after being found dead in her hotel room on Monday. Her son William has claimed that no toxicological report has been made about her because all the machines in the country are broken.
Cox said the US embassy in Santo Domingo told him that his mother died of a heart attack, but in light of recent news reports about Americans dying during their vacations, he is not ready to accept the official statement.
& # 39; I have the right to be suspicious, & # 39; he said. In a telephone interview with the New York Post, he explained: & # 39; The Dominican Republic has not issued an autopsy report.
& # 39; They will not write a toxicological report about her because they say the toxicology machines in the Dominican Republic are broken.
Claudia herself says that she fell ill then and later discovered that other members of her family, including older relatives, were also sick but did not want to spoil the couple's marriage. The couple was then forced to shorten their honeymoon
Claudia, pictured with Kevin, claims that her bridesmaid and her cousin have fallen ill and paid hundreds of dollars to visit the resort's clinic before being referred to a local hospital
Two other Americans, David Harrison and Robert Bell Wallace, have died in the last year at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, pictured
I tried to make her body fly back to the US so we can do our own autopsy and our own toxicological report, & he said.
& # 39; But that unfortunately costs a fortune. And I'm not close to that kind of money. & # 39;
Toxicology reports – drug tests conducted on people who have died – cost thousands of dollars.
& # 39; They have placed me against a wall where I have no choice, & # 39; said William.
& # 39; I don't know how she died. I don't know where she died – I know it was in a hotel. I don't know if she was in a room or at the bar. & # 39;
Leyla flew to the Caribbean island on June 5 and was expected to stay on the island for a week before flying back to New York on Wednesday, William told the Staten Island Advance.
The family says it is waiting for her body to be transferred from the hospital to Blandino Funeral Home in Santo Domingo.
& # 39; Once they have her, they will call me, and they will make appointments with me, & # 39; said William.
Another factor likely to complicate an attempt to find out what happened is the fact that his mother wanted to be cremated – which would exclude any toxicological report.
Leyla Cox, 53, from New Brighton, flew to the Dominican Republic on 5 June. She was expected to stay on the island for a week before flying to New York on Wednesday, according to her son, William Cox
Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, from Maryland, checked in on May 25 at the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana. Five days ago they were found dead in their rooms and their families now say they plan to perform their own autopsies on their bodies
Leyla was found dead in her hotel room on Monday, June 10, just one day after her birthday.
Cox said that he and his family had urged his mother not to go to the island in view of recent events.
& # 39; My family wanted her not to go on vacation, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; I really believe that if my mother were not in the Dominican Republic, she would have lived now.
& # 39; With everything that is happening in the news now, we think she's a victim of what happened. & # 39;
Cox said he had spoken with his mother days before her departure.
Authorities believe that the dead were caused by bootleg drink
The police believe that the seven American tourists who mysteriously died in the Dominican Republic last year may have been poisoned by bootleg drink.
The Caribbean island has said the deaths are isolated incidents, but US law enforcement sources have told the New York Post that they are investigating who supplied the alcohol that the victims drank in the hours before their death.
They also want to test the drinks to see if they contain hazardous chemicals.
A source told the Post that the FBI will bring blood samples from the dead to the Virginia research center for testing.
Most of the victims were apparently healthy adults, some of whom are known to have drunk from their hotel room minibar before becoming extremely ill.
Lawrence Kobilinsky, professor of forensic science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, told the New York post that the symptoms of many of the dead and sick, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are consistent with methanol poisoning or pesticides.
Methanol is a toxic form of alcohol that is used as an antifreeze agent. It is a light, colorless, flammable liquid with an odor that is similar to that of ethanol (drink alcohol).
& # 39; I think there is, from what I've heard and read, that something has been added to the drinks or bottles in those little refrigerators, & he said.
& # 39; I called her on a Sunday and wished her a happy birthday, & # 39; he said. & # 39; I told her I loved her. & # 39;
It is unclear whether Leyla Cox has stayed in one of the resorts where other Americans have fallen ill.
Earlier on Thursday, a couple from Atlanta said they had become violently and mysteriously ill during a vacation to the Dominican Republic.
Vanessa McNelley-Neal and her husband James say they were the victims of a & # 39; very intense & # 39; during a break on the island. disease.
Four American tourists died in the Bahia Principe hotels and two in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana.
FBI officials say they are now investigating each of the dead.
The brother of Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran, John, was also found dead in a hotel room in the Dominican Republic in April. Corcoran said in a statement on Instagram Thursday that her brother had a & # 39; existing heart condition and we believe he died of a natural cause & # 39 ;.
But the family of Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day, who died at the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana, say they plan to perform their own autopsies on their bodies.
Their lawyer Steven Bullock said to People: & We will continue to investigate the exact cause of death. The families are determined to find out what happened and why. At present, the cause of death remains a mystery.
& # 39; We look forward to getting the FBI findings. & # 39;
An autopsy performed in the Dominican Republic said Holmes one day that they both died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema. Day also reportedly suffered from brain edema.
The McNelley-Neals told 11 Living that they were in the same hotel chain as other Americans who died or suffered from an illness.
The couple first visited in October last year before returning a month later.
Vanessa said: & # 39; We had a few good days and then started getting sick.
Cynthia Day, 49, from Upper Marlboro, Maryland and her fiancee Nathaniel Holmes, 63, from Temple Hills, Maryland, were found dead in their room at the Bahia Principe hotel
Miranda Schaup Werner collapsed on May 25 and died in her room after a drink from the minibar at the all-inclusive Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana. She is pictured on the left with her husband Dan. David Harrison, 45, right, of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while on vacation with his wife, Dawn McCoy and their son on the Hard Rock in Punta Cana
Yvette Monique Sport, 51, left, from Glenside, Pennsylvania, also died after drinking from the minibar at the Bahia Principe resort, Sport's family members said. Robert Bell Wallace, 67, right, from California, fell ill and died after having a mini-bar scotch at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic
FBI officials say they are now investigating the seven deaths of apparently healthy Americans who have suddenly died in one of the two resorts in the last 12 months
& # 39; Started with very bad abdominal cramps. I thought it was some sort of GI (gastrointestinal) problem. I had a slight headache.
& # 39; I had food poisoning on Tahiti years ago, so I know how it feels and didn't feel like that & # 39 ;, said Vanessa. & # 39; The stomach cramp was very different. It was very intense. It was not the normal abdominal pain.
& # 39; Everything we've taken has not really helped. & # 39;
Her husband James added: & # 39; I had a severe headache that just lasted and lasted. I have taken everything and nothing in phases. & # 39;
The couple, who then lived in Puerto Rico, went to the doctor when they first returned home, but doctors there and later in Atlanta could not determine what was wrong with them. They say they were sick for at least three weeks.
Vanessa added: & # 39; We just left it until people started getting the same problems and it sounded very similar to what we had and it just didn't really work. & # 39;
The couple now say they hope that & # 39; other people will come forward & # 39; and that an investigation is started.
Tourist Jerry Martin, from Plant City, Florida, also claimed to have fallen ill last month at the Caribe Club Princess Beach Resort & Spa in Punta Cana.
He told Fox 13: We were at the pool when it struck and I had to go upstairs and just lie down and hold my stomach. He was on fire. & # 39;
DailyMail.com has contacted the resort for comments.
TIME LINE: American tourists who died mysteriously or were struck by diseases in the Dominican Republic
June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport, 51, from Glenside, Pennsylvania, dies after drinking from the minibar at a hotel in Bahia Principe in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic. Family said the previously healthy Sport had the drink, went to sleep and never woke up.
June 2018: Kaylynn Knull, 29, and Tom Schwander, 33, woke up in their Grand Bahia Principe hotel room with a thumping headache. They returned to the room later in the day for a & # 39; chemical odor & # 39; to find. The couple changed flights and flew home early.
July 2018: David Harrison dies while on vacation at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana to celebrate his wedding anniversary. He woke up struggling to breathe and covered with sweat. He died the same day. His widow said he had visited the doctor before the trip who had given him a clean health certificate.
October 2018: Awilda Montes, 43, from New York, claims to have drunk a bottle of soft drink from the minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe resort in La Romana that turned out to be. She survived but suffered from chemical burns.
April 2019: Dozens of people traveling with a Jimmy Buffet fan group from Oklahoma get sick at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana.
April 10, 2019: Robert Bell Wallace, 67, from California, fell ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his minibar in the room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana – the same hotel as Harrison.
April 14: Wallace dies in the hospital four days after becoming ill.
May 25: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, from Pennsylvannia, dies within hours of having a drink from the resort's mini-bar across the island at the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana.
May 25: Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, check in at the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana.
30th of May: Dag and Holmes are found dead in their rooms.
June 10th: Leyla Cox, 53, from Staten Island, New York, is found dead in her hotel room. The American embassy in Santo Domingo told her family that she died of a heart attack, but her son, William Cox, says he is suspicious.
The resorts and hotels of Bahia Principe have tweeted to say: “The safety and comfort of our guests and employees are at the core of our corporate values and we work daily to ensure it.
& # 39; All our properties in the Dominican Republic hold some of the industry's most prestigious certifications, including Gold-level Travelife certifications, as well as a 90 percent Global Reputation Index (GRI). & # 39;
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana said DailyMail.com: & # 39; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is deeply saddened by these two unfortunate incidents and we express our sincere condolences to Mr's families . Harrison and Mr. Wallace.
& # 39; We are currently awaiting official reports on these deaths, which occurred in July 2018 and April 2019 respectively.
& # 39; We can assure you that the safety and health of our guests is now and has always been our top priority. We are currently implementing beverage protocols, including the purchase of sealed and unopened products from recognized and reputable suppliers, as well as daily inspections of all products served at the hotel bars and at the vending machines.
& # 39; In addition, our team members have been trained to inspect all supplies, equipment and products that enter the premises. & # 39;
Authorities in the Dominican Republic had said last week that the death of a psychotherapist in Pennsylvania and an American couple five days later in the same resort appear to be unrelated incidents.
The resort released this statement and said it was & # 39; deeply sad & # 39; was by the death of the couple
Robert Bell Wallace, 67, from California fell ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana on April 10 and died on April 14 after his hospitalization, reported Fox News.
Pennsylvania's Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, also died after drinking a drink from a resort minibar all over the island at the Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana on 25 May.
Five days later, the Maryland couple, Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, were found dead in their rooms on May 30 at the same resort, although they were staying in an adjacent sister hotel.
Yvette Monique Sport, 51, from Glenside, Pennsylvania, also died a year ago, after drinking from the minibar at that resort, Sport's family members said to Fox 29.
In July 2018, David Harrison (45) of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while on vacation with his wife and their son on the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, which now questions his widow in view of other recent deaths.
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