A teenager from Argentina has fallen into a coma while on holiday in the Dominican Republic, the latest in a string of mysterious illnesses to befall tourists in the country.
Candela Saccone, 15, was due to return from Punta Cana on June 19 but reportedly got sick the morning of travel. She then displayed symptoms of dizziness, vomiting and dehydration, her mother said.
Doctors are pointing to a life-threatening diabetic condition despite the fact that her family says she has no history of diabetes and leads a normal, healthy life.
A teenager from Argentina has fallen into a coma while on holiday in the Dominican Republic, the latest in a string of mysterious illnesses to befall tourists in the country
Doctors are pointing to a life-threatening diabetic condition despite the fact that her family says she has no history of diabetes and leads a normal, healthy life. Candela Saccone, 15, was due to return from Punta Cana on June 19 but reportedly got sick the morning of travel. She then displayed symptoms of dizziness, vomiting and dehydration, her mother said.
Doctors diagnosed Saccone with diabetic cetoacidosis, a ‘serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones’
Doctors diagnosed Saccone with diabetic cetoacidosis, a ‘serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones.’
It normally develops ‘when your body can’t produce enough insulin,’ experts say.
Candela was then reportedly transported from Punta Cana to the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo.
Argentine authorities said that the initial medical center ‘did not have sufficient equipment to treat her,’ the New York Post reported.
Candela was then reportedly transported from Punta Cana to the General Hospital of the Plaza de la Salud in Santo Domingo. Argentine authorities said that the initial medical center ‘did not have sufficient equipment to treat her,’ the New York Post reported (pictured with her mother)
According to CNN, the girl remains in a coma and in critical condition, though is showing some signs of improving as of Tuesday.
So far, at least 12 people have died in the past year while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, while dozens more have fallen ill.
Saccone reportedly lost her appetite and was suffering from an extremely painful throat, meaning she was unable to swallow, her mom said.
Despite the spate of illnesses, health minister Rafael Sánchez Cárdenas maintains the cases are unrelated.
Meanwhile, the FBI are investigating the incidents, with a contaminated batch of alcohol one avenue of interest.
Caruso had been living in the Boca Chica community near Santo Domingo for several years. He also suffered from several health problems. He became the 10th person to die in the Dominican Republic within the last year (depicted above). Two more have died since
Another apparent victim, Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, died on June 17 from respiratory and heart failure.
He had been living in the Boca Chica community near Santo Domingo for several years, according to CNN.
For a long time, Caruso suffered from hypertension, heart disease and pulmonary disease.
His partner, Yomaira Ramirez de Jesus, told authorities that Caruso suffered from cardiorespiratory arrest and died after being transported to a hospital in Santo Domingo.
He is one of 12 known American to die within the last year, but authorities don’t believe the deaths are related.
According to Ramirez de Jesus, Caruso had complained about feeling short of breath on June 11. At the time, he went to the doctor where he received treatment and was released.
He died just six days later. A preliminary autopsy report revealed that he died after going into cardiac arrest. There were no signs of internal or external trauma, authorities said. Caruso owned a pizzeria with his brother until a month ago.
Two of the 12 Americans who have died in the Dominican Republic in the last year stayed at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana.
In response to the spate of deaths, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana announced that it would remove liquor dispensers from minibars in hotel rooms.
Hotel management also announced that it has hired an American-based health care company to inspect the premises so as to ‘ensure the on-site health clinic is complying with all international and US standards,’ according to the New York Post.
On Saturday it was learned that a retired police officer from Ohio became of the 12 American vacationer to die suddenly in the Dominican Republic.
Jerry Curran, a 78-year-old who had served with the Bedford Police Department for 32 years before becoming a bailiff, died in January while staying at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana.
Three days after he and wife Janet arrived at the resort on January 22, Curran began vomiting and was unresponsive. He underwent surgery but died hours later, WYKC reported.
‘He went to the Dominican Republic healthy and he just never came back,’ said daughter Kellie Brown.
She, along with sisters Kim Pidala and Jackie Sikes, have been trying to understand the cause of their father’s death after learning of the others in the news.
Jerry Curran (pictured), 78, a former officer, died in January while staying at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana
‘I thought something’s not right my father was a healthy 78-year-old, he took care of himself and I just didn’t think anything like this was possible, but then I started to hear other people’s stories,’ Kellie added.
Kellie recalled how shocked she was at the time when she received a call telling her of her father’s medical problems.
‘Your father needs surgery or he’s going to die and they need fifty thousand dollars and you need to send it with a copy of your passport, the front and back of your debit card and an authorization stating that you would allow them to withdraw fifty thousand dollars,’ Kellie said.
Kellie sent $40,000 while her mother put $10,000 on a credit card.
For the sisters, the time of death that the hospital and US embassy put is just one red flag that they’ve noticed. The time put was 11am on January 26 but Kellie asserts she got the call several hours beforehand.
They also have concerns over his cause of death.
‘One of them is pulmonary edema which seems to be common in everyone else who’s passed that we’re learning about,’ Kellie added.
Also listed were Cerebral hypoxia, severe encephalitic cranial trauma and subdural hematoma.
Doctors stated that the pulmonary edema was ‘scant’ and not enough of a reason to be a direct cause of death. The brain injury was also questionable.
‘He never complained of hitting his head or falling,’ Kellie said. She admitted that Jerry was taking blood thinners, which could have impacted his health.
The sisters plan on sending their father’s medical records to doctors in the US. Kellie shared that she has also spoken with FBI. She stressed the importance of getting medical insurance when traveling.
Three days after he and wife Janet arrived at the resort (pictured) on January 22, Curran began vomiting and was unresponsive. He underwent surgery but died hours later
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García (pictured) told reporters that autopsies for eight fatalities in the Dominican Republic show the tourists died of natural causes. He did not mention three of the casualties
Jerry’s personal insurance did eventually pay the money Kellie and her mother spent but sent the check in the retired officer’s name. They are working to have that changed.
In a statement to WYKC, the resort mentioned Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García’s assertion that the recent deaths can all be attributed to natural causes.
‘Dreams Punta Cana has a range of safety, security and quality control protocols in place, including having a physician living on-site. We take the safety and security of every guest seriously, providing industry best practices and extensive staff training to manage the needs of guests,’ they added in the statement.
‘This includes training to recognize and respond to a range of health situations and support guest safety quickly and with compassion. All security agents are trained in emergency protocols, and we have clear procedures for addressing health issues, which were correctly followed in Mr. Curran’s situation.’
Garcia said five of the autopsies are complete, and three are undergoing further toxicological analysis with the help from the FBI because of the circumstances of the deaths.
With some 3.2 million US tourists visiting the Dominican Republic last year, he said, it’s not unusual for eight people to die while on vacation over any six-month period.
Dominican officials say they are confident the three deaths still under investigation were also from natural causes.
‘We want the truth to prevail,’ García said. ‘There is nothing to hide here.’
Two other US families also revealed that their loved ones died suddenly in the Dominican Republic in 2018 and 2016.
Chris Palmer, a 41-year-old Army veteran, and Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, a 69-year-old retired nurse from Pennsylvania, both died in the Dominican Republic.
Two other US families also revealed that their loved ones died suddenly in the Dominican Republic. Chris Palmer (left), 41, and Barbara Maser-Mitchell (right), 69, died in 2018 and 2016 respectively
Palmer was found dead in his room at the Villa Cocotal Palma resort in Punta Cana on April 18, 2018
Maser-Mitchell suffered cardiac arrest after leaving the Excellence resort in Punta Cana and died on September 17, 2016
Palmer was found dead in his room at the Villa Cocotal Palma resort in Punta Cana on April 18, 2018.
Maser-Mitchell suffered cardiac arrest after leaving the Excellence resort in Punta Cana and died on September 17, 2016.
Dominican authorities said that Palmer had a pulmonary edema and died as a result of a heart attack, which was listed as his official cause of death.
The Dominican Republic’s tourism minister said recent media coverage of deaths at resorts are ‘exaggerated’ and are a result of natural causes, leaving the son of one of the casualties to call the country’s response ‘disgraceful’.
‘As soon as he died, I wondered if he was poisoned, if he was drugged,’ said Bernadette Hiller, an ex-girlfriend of Palmer who saw him a week before he died. ‘He was healthy as a horse.’
Palmer, a salesman and scuba diving instructor, told friends he was feeling ill while at the resort. Hiller said that he had a really bad headache.
Dominican authorities said that Palmer had a pulmonary edema and died as a result of a heart attack, which was listed as his official cause of death
It is unknown whether Palmer had a beverage from the hotel bar or the mini bar, and he was said to be in the country to sell timeshares and teaching scuba diving at the resort. He was found dead in his room on April 18 and Dominican authorities said he had aspirated on his vomit.
‘We are devastated and are seeking answers,’ Hiller added. ‘This was so sudden and unexpected. This has been a nightmare for his family.’
Maser-Mitchell was in the Dominican Republic celebrating her birthday with her son and his partner.
On her second day at the resort, and after drinking, the retired nurse complained about feeling sick. She went up to her room, which was adjacent to her son’s.
She was still feeling under the weather on the next day and did not join the group for breakfast.
‘In the 15 years I knew her, she never suffered aftereffects,’ companion, Terry Mackey, said.
Growing worse, her family called the resort doctor who asked the mother if she wanted to go to a hospital. After initially declining, Maser-Mitchell said she would go.
While in the ambulance Maser-Mitchell went into cardiac arrest. ‘I was sitting in the ambulance with her, holding her hand the whole time,’ Mackey said.
She added: ‘The hospital personnel were not kind or helpful.’
Maser-Mitchell’s body was returned to the US but her family were forced to only have a viewing because her body was in bad shape.
Mackey was unsure whether the retired nurse had a drink from her room’s minibar.
Garcia did not elaborate on the two latest deaths to be added to the tally.
The first deaths to make headlines, and still the most mysterious, were those of a couple who seemingly died at the same time in the same hotel room.
The bodies of Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found May 30 in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana hotel.
Several medications were found in the room, including an anti-inflammatory drug, an opioid and blood-pressure medicine, García said.
García (pictured) said the number of US tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic dropped 56 per cent from 2016 to 2018, although he did not provide further numbers or details
William Cox, the son of Leyla Cox, shared his frustration with the lack of information he has gotten on his mother’s death and asserted that she did not die from a heart attack
Autopsies found pulmonary edema, an accumulation of fluid in the lungs frequently caused by heart disease.
Soon after the couple’s death, family members appeared in US media reports questioning the death of Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who died May 25 at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville hotel.
A family spokesman told reporters that she collapsed after getting a drink from the minibar.
An autopsy found that she died of a heart attack, García said.
García said the number of US tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic dropped 56 per cent from 2016 to 2018, although he did not provide further numbers or details.
The US State Department also discounted the idea of a surge of tourist deaths, saying the agency had not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen who died there.
García showed reporters a summary of pathologists’ findings in each death but declined to share the autopsy reports, saying they are not public records and that only the families could authorize their release.
Jerry Curran, 78, died January 26 in the Dreams Punta Cana resort, and an autopsy report blamed pulmonary edema and other causes, García said.
Maryland couple Cynthia Day, 49, and Edward Holmes, 63, had been staying in the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana hotel when they were found dead in their room by hotel staff on May 30
Susan Simoneaux, 59, died last week in New Orleans after being rushed to a hospital with fluid on her lungs. Her death came a week after she returned from her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic with her husband Keith Williams
Donette Edge Cannon, 38, died four days after arriving to the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana on May 14
Then on April 12, 67-year-old Robert Bell Wallace of California died of septic shock, pneumonia and multi-organ failure.
A week later, on April 19, 70-year-old John Corcoran died of natural causes.
Family members have said he had a pre-existing heart condition, and officials did not release further details.
‘What some media are describing as an avalanche of deaths doesn’t correspond to the reality that we’re living today in the Dominican Republic,’ García said.
Leyla Ann Cox, 53, died from a heart attack June 10, he said.
TIMELINE: American tourists who mysteriously died in the Dominican Republic
September 17, 2016: Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, a 69-year-old retired nurse from Pennsylvania, suffered cardiac arrest after leaving the Excellence resort in Punta Cana.
April 18, 2018: Chris Palmer was found dead in his room at the Villa Cocotal Palma resort in Punta Cana
June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, dies after drinking from the minibar at at a Bahia Principe hotel in Punta Cana. Family said Sport had the drink, went to sleep and never woke up.
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 in sweat. He died that same day. He visited the doctor before the trip who’d given him a clean bill of health.
January 26, 2019: Jerry Curran, a 78-year-old former police officer from Ohio, died after enjoying a few nights at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana. He was found vomiting before becoming unresponsive and died after surgery.
April 10, 2019 : Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his in-room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana. He died in hospital on April 14.
May 14, 2019: The family of Donette Edge Cannon, 38, revealed that she died four days after arriving at the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana.
May 25, 2019: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvannia, dies within hours of consuming a drink from a resort minibar across the island at Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana.
May 25, 2019: Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, check into the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana. They were found dead in their room on May 30.
June 10, 2019: Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, New York, is found dead in her hotel room. Officials say she died of a heart attack, but her son says he is suspicious.
June 13, 2019: New Jersey man Joseph Allen, 55, is found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua. He was there to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
June 17, 2019: Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, New York, died shortly after he reportedly drank something and became critically ill at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.
June 18, 2019: Louisiana woman Susan Simoneaux, 59, died on Tuesday in New Orleans after being rushed to hospital with fluid on her lungs. Her death came a week after she returned from her Dominican Republic honeymoon.
She had signs of a previous heart attacks. Three days later, on June 13, Joseph Allen, also 55, died of a heart attack at the Centro Vacacional Terra Linda resort in Sosua, anthracosis edema and pulmonary congestion.
The Dominican government has been criticized for not being more forthcoming about the details of the death investigations.
William Cox, the son of Leyla Cox, shared his frustration with the lack of information he has gotten on his mother’s death and asserted that she did not die from a heart attack.
‘It’s absolutely disgraceful. It’s disgraceful to dismiss the families with everything that’s going on over there,’ Cox said.
‘There’s something not right with this story. How many more Americans are going to have to die before something is done and we as Americans say enough is enough?’
William said that the FBI hadn’t reached out to him but offered that the officials that he has spoken to have been ‘very helpful’.
‘For all as I know, a crime could have been committed and the Dominican authorities are not even investigating that whatsoever,’ he said.
Family members and loved ones aren’t the only ones looking at the strange deaths under intense scrutiny, trying to determine the causes.
They ‘probably have some indication of what it could be or what it might not be,’ said Dr Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases and critical care doctor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
But officials have been ‘very opaque’ about their findings.
‘The longer they keep everybody in suspense, the worst it’s going to be for the Dominican Republic, especially when they’re so dependent on tourism. Because the longer this goes on unexplained, the longer people are going to be leery of going there,’ Adalja said.
‘Most tourist destinations have a number of natural deaths during a year,’ added Dr Sally Aiken, a medical examiner in Spokane, Washington, who has done more than 9,000 autopsies and is vice president of the National Association of Medical Examiners.
In response to public concerns, authorities are increasing internal security measures at hotels as well as increased control over food and beverages, but only as a preventive measure, García said.
‘We’re very sorry for the families’ grief,’ he said. But ‘there is no wave of mysterious deaths.’
A ‘vibrant’ Queens mom-of-four also died in mysterious circumstances after falling ill in the Dominican Republic.
The family of Donette Edge Cannon, 38, revealed that she died four days after arriving at the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana on May 14.
Cannon had diabetes and was on a dialysis treatment. On her last night at the resort, the mother-of-four started throwing up and went to the hospital.
The hospital that she was taken to did not have a dialysis machine even though Cannon’s family told medical personnel about the woman’s kidney issues
Dominican authorities ruled that her cause of death was kidney failure.
Susan Simoneaux, 59, of Louisiana, died on Tuesday in New Orleans after being rushed to the hospital with fluid on her lungs. Her death came a week after she returned from her Dominican Republic honeymoon.