More sad news to report in the Dominican Republic. A man named Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in his hotel room at Terra Linda in Sosua in the Dominican Republic on June 13. He is the eight tourist to die in the country since last year but hotels insist there is nothing to fear.
According to ABC, Allen’s sister Jamie Reed said friends had “complained about being hot at the pool. He said he was going to his room to take a shower. When his friends came back, he said he wasn’t feeling 100% again, and said he was going to lie down for the night. The next morning his friend said he hadn’t heard from Joe before breakfast, so he knocked on his door and there was no response.”
The hotel did a wellness check and found him dead on the floor. Reed added, “The families need answers. We deserve answers…My brother was my best friend. I spoke to him every day. This is killing me.”
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Americas CEO Elie Maalouf told FOX that there is nothing to fear, “We have three hotels in the Dominican Republic. They are operating safely, have had no incidents… While this is an unfortunate set of incidents, travelers can be assured that the hotel industry, travel industry is well regulated [and] safe.”
Several people have come forward to say they nearly died at hotels in the Dominican Republican. Susie Lauterborn, 38, and her husband, Doug Hand, 40, who are from Philadelphia, told BuzzFeed News they quickly became ill after staying at the Grand Bahia Principe in January 2018. Lauterborn described feeling severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, fatigue, chills, and cold sweats. A bright-red rash covered her entire body, and a fever above 100 degrees. She said, “The stabbing pain in my stomach was unlike anything I’ve experienced before and I’ve had an intestinal infection previously in my life and had to go to the hospital for that. This was worse than that.”
The hotel medical center’s were no help, “They literally told me I’d partied too much … but we don’t even party,” she said.
They wanted to leave early but it was too expensive to change flights. They stayed in the room most of the time and barely ate, “The food all tasted off, the drinks all tasted off, to the point where I was like, ‘I’m not even going to drink a glass of wine because it just tastes off.’ I can’t even explain — we ate pasta one night, and it was so bad I couldn’t finish it. It tasted acidic, like battery acid.”
Lauterborn also said the reason why things weren’t worse was because of their age, “I truly believe that the only reason we weren’t sicker or didn’t have the same outcome that these poor people had is probably because we were a bit younger and healthier.”
During the last week of May, a Black couple was found dead in their hotel room. Maryland couple Cynthia Ann Day, 49, and her fiancé Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, were staying at the same Grand Baha Principe hotel. Their bodies were discovered on May 30, the same day they were to fly back to the United States. On Sunday, the Dominican Republic National Police determined that the couple died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema caused by excess fluid in their lungs. Days later, it still remained unclear what may have caused their condition.
Just five days before Day and Holmes’ bodies were found, a Pennsylvania woman collapsed and died at the Baha Principe hotel. Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, checked in with her husband, Dan Werner, on May 25, the same day as the Maryland couple. Reports say after she enjoyed a drink at a minibar, she suddenly collapsed in her hotel room.
There have also been deaths outside of the hotel. Two months earlier, a Black couple from New York went missing in the Dominican Republic. Orlando Moore, 43, and his girlfriend, Portia Ravenelle, 51, had checked out of their hotel in Samana but never made it to their flight back to the United States back in March. The pair died after their car plunged off a cliff as they made their way to the airport.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the Dominican Republic in April for crime before updating it in May to rank the nation a level 2 travel advisory for crime, which warns travelers to exercise increased caution.
According to the World Health Organization, the Dominican Republic ranked fifth in road deaths per capita in 2016.