A British couple who were struck down while visiting the Dominican Republic resort where nine tourists died have called for authorities to test the ‘potentially poisonous’ alcohol they bought home from their trip as gifts.
Emma Plappert and boyfriend Leigh Bailey from Southend, Essex, suffered from intense exhaustion, bloody diarrhoea and and stomach pains after flying home from the Bahia Principe hotel on May 19.
After hearing of the mystery deaths at the resort, they are calling on authorities to test miniatures they bought home from the hotel’s mini-bar to see if they’d been tampered with.
Emma Plappert and boyfriend Leigh Bailey from Southend, Essex, suffered from intense exhaustion, bloody diarrhoea and and stomach pains after flying home from the Bahia Principe hotel (pictured) on May 19
The couple, who forked out £3,400 on the holiday after winning £6,000 on the slots, bought home the mini bottles as gifts. Luckily, they were able to get them back before anyone had opened them.
Mother-of-three Emma, 36, told the Mirror: ‘The first thing we noticed that was strange was the alcohol from the main hotel bar.
‘It just didn’t taste like alcohol at all. It just tasted weird. I said at the time that they had put fake alcohol in it. It tasted a bit chemically.’
She continued she could smell something sulphurous halfway through her trip.
‘I woke up and it smelt like rancid rotten eggs. I think it was coming through the air conditioning. I started to think of chemical gasses. I was really scared. After that I had the worst tummy ache of my life.’
The map above shows the five resorts where American tourists have died mysteriously over the past year
She continued that she’s ‘scared’ and became ‘really worried’ when she heard of the deaths.
The couple’s claims comes after Dominican Republic officials dismissed the deaths as ‘fake news’ and said tests prove each tourist died of natural causes.
Carlos Suero, who works for the Ministry of Public Health, dismissed the reports as ‘hysteria’, saying they are part of an effort to undermine the island’s tourism, arguing that the ‘the food, the alcohol, the air is normal’.
He told Fox News on Wednesday: ‘It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism, this is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists, we are a popular destination. People are taking aim at us.’
Yvette Monique Sport, 51, left, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, also died after drinking from the minibar at the Bahia Principe resort, Sport’s family members said. Robert Bell Wallace, 67,right, of California, became ill and died after he had a scotch from the room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic
The US State Department confirmed that Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua earlier this month.
This is a different resort to where the other Americans have died. Three American tourists have died at the Grand Bahia Príncipe La Romana, where Emma and Leigh were holidaying, three at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, one at Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana and one at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville.
The FBI is reportedly currently investigating whether the dead tourists had drunk tainted liquor and is analysing minibar samples from the Bahia Príncipe resort, according to CNN .
Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua
Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua (pictured)
But Suero added: ‘The testing results are all negative, everything – the food, the alcohol, the air – is normal, there is no alteration of the alcohol.
‘With all the tourists we get every year, we make sure we comply with international standards for everything.’
Dominican Public Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas has already said the reports are ‘set up’ aimed at ‘hurting tourism’.
Suero added: ‘People die all over the world. Unfortunately, very unfortunately for us, these tourists have died here. We had about 14 deaths last year here of U.S. tourists, and no one said a word. Now everyone is making a big deal of these.
Miranda Schaup Werner collapsed on May 25 and died in her room after having a drink from the mini-bar at the all-inclusive Bahia Principe Hotel in La Romana. She’s pictured left with her husband Dan. David Harrison, 45, right, of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while vacationing with his wife, Dawn McCoy and their son at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana
More US families are still coming forward with their own horror stories from their vacation on the island, including the Jensen family, pictured
‘I went to the United States and got an infection in my throat, but luckily I was returning to the Dominican Republic soon after. If I’d died, would I have been right to blame the United States? No.’
More US families are still coming forward with their own horror stories from their vacation on the island.
Amy Burbach Jensen, 51, told The New York Post her family fell violently ill last week at the Hard Rock Hotel and Resort in Punta Cana.
She said: ‘In my opinion, they should shut down that hotel and figure out what’s going down.’
Amy, from Fairfax, Virginia, claims five of her eight family members fell ill with her son Ben, 18, was ‘so sick that he was curling on the floor and just laid on the shower’.
Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, checked into the Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana on May 25. They were found dead in their rooms five days now and their families say they now plan to carry out their own autopsies on their bodies
She added: ‘He was afraid to move’.
Two American tourists have died at the Hard Rock in the past year. Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California became ill almost immediately after drinking an alcoholic beverage from his in-room minibar at the hotel on April 10, and died on April 14 after being hospitalized.
In July 2018, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland died of an alleged heart attack while vacationing with his wife and their son at the Hard Rock, which his widow now calls into question given the other recent deaths.
The confirmation of Allen’s death comes a week after Leyla Cox, 53, of New Brighton became the seventh American in the last year to die in mysterious circumstances in Dominican Republic.
Leyla Cox, 53, of New Brighton, flew to the Dominican Republic on June 5. She was expected to spend a week on the island before flying back to New York on Wednesday, according to her son, William Cox. She died last Monday
She was found dead in her hotel room at Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana, last Monday.
Her son William has claimed no toxicology report has been carried out on her because all the country’s machines are broken.
Cox said that he was told by the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo 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 explanation.
In a statement a spokesman for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana told the DailyMail.com: ‘Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana is deeply saddened by these two unfortunate incidents, and we extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of Mr. Harrison and Mr. Wallace.
David Harrison and Robert Bell Wallace died at the at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, pictured, in the last year
‘We are currently waiting for official reports regarding these deaths, which occurred in July of 2018 and April of 2019 respectively.
‘We can assure you, the safety and health of our guests is now, and has always been our highest priority. We currently implement beverage protocols, including purchasing sealed and unopened products from licensed and reputable vendors, as well as daily inspections of all products served throughout the hotel bars and in-room liquor dispensers.
‘Additionally, our team members are trained to inspect all supplies, equipment and products that enter the property.’
TIMELINE: American tourists who mysteriously died or were struck down with illnesses in the Dominican Republic
June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport, 51, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, dies after drinking from the minibar at the Grand Bahia Príncipe La Romana 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 hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe with a pounding headache. They returned to the room later in the day, to find a ‘chemical smell’. The couple changed their flights and flew home early.
July 2018: David Harrison, 45, 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. His widow said he’d visited the doctor before the trip who’d given him a clean bill of health.
October, 2018: Awilda Montes, 43, of New York, claims she drank a bottle of soda from the minibar at the Grand Bahia Principe Resort in La Romana that ‘turned out to be bleach.’ She survived but suffered chemical burns.
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 – the same hotel as Harrison.
April 14: Wallace dies in hospital four days after falling ill.
May 25: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvannia, dies within hours of consuming a drink from a resort minibar at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville.
May 25: Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland, check into the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana.
May 30: Day and Holmes are found dead in their rooms at the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel, La Romana.
June 10: Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, New York, is found dead in her hotel room at Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana. The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo informed her family that she died of a heart attack, but her son, William Cox, says he is suspicious.
June 13: Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda hotel in Sosua.
June 15: Mark Hurlbut Jr. told AZFamily.com his father, Mark Hurlbut Sr., from Surprise, Arizona, died exactly a year ago on June 15, 2018, in Punta Cana. A coroner listed his death there as a heart attack. However in light of the recent spate of tourist deaths Hurlbut Jr is now questioning how his dad died. He did not say which resort his father was staying at but he said his dad was ‘found foaming green stuff’ when he died.