An autopsy has found that a Georgia man who suffered a fatal ‘respiratory illness’ while holidaying in the Dominican Republic died of ‘natural causes.’
Tracy Jerome Jester Jr. became the 13th American to die suspiciously in the tourist destination after he ‘dropped to his knees and started throwing-up blood’ on March 16.
The 31-year-old, from Forsyth had been vacationing with his sister for just over a day when he collapsed due to breathing difficulties and later died.
His mother Melody Moore told WSB-TV-2 at the time that she had spoken to him the night before and that the only odd thing he mentioned was drinking a soda that ‘didn’t taste right.’
His death added to concerns over safety in the Caribbean nation, becoming the thirteenth U.S. citizen to die there since June 2018 .
But a statement from the nation’s minister of tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia, on Wednesday said there was nothing suspicious about the man’s death.
‘We extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Jester’s family,’ Garcia wrote.
The death of 31-year-old Tracy Jerome Jester Jr. has been ruled as ‘natural causes.’ The official causes was listed as ‘basal bilateral pneumonia’ which led to water building between his chest and lungs making it harder for him to breathe
Dominican Republic Tourist Minister Francisco Javier Garcia extended the nation’s ‘sincerest condolences’ to Jester’s family in a statement
Jester’s cause of death was listed as basal bilateral pneumonia, which produced a pleural effusion and acute respiratory insufficiency, according to ABC
The infection is known as ‘double pneumonia’ due to both lungs being affected, causing cause water to build-up between the chest and lungs – making it more difficult to breathe, according to Medical News Today.
Garcia described it as an ‘isolated incident,’ according to the New York Post.
His body was returned to the U.S. on April 4, where Moore said her son had lupus and a ‘respiratory illness’ written on the death certificate.
‘Being a mom, I want to go to where he was, where he died at last,’ she told WSB-TV-2 last week. ‘Something is wrong, my son is gone. Something is really wrong.’
At the time, the U.S. State Department told ABC that there was no connection between Jester’s death and that of any other tourists. They said there was no rise in American deaths in the Dominican Republic.
Prior to the autopsy report findings, Garcia said: ‘We want the truth to prevail… There is nothing to hide here.’
Despite this, Garcia recently announced a new intergovernmental tourism safety council, to ‘safeguard the traveling public.’
The team will feature multilingual specialists to connect tourists and their families with government entities, the NYPost reported.
Jester had been vacationing with his sister in the Dominican Republic for just over a day before he suddenly struggled to breathe, collapsed on the floor and started throwing-up blood
Jester died on March 17 after breathing difficulties that would later be known as ‘basal bilateral pneumonia’
Hotels across the country will be required to give details on their food-handling procedures and a list of information about all of their food and beverage suppliers.
Medical professionals inside hotels will also be monitored, under a newly appointed ‘Department of Tourism Services and Companies,’ according to Garcia. With special attention being paid to the qualifications of doctors, nurses, assistants and other staff.
Pools and other water facilities will also be inspected to ensure lifeguards are fully certified.
A final measure in the country will reinforce the requirement of emergency information being posted in every guest room, in a clearly noticeable place. Hotel staff will also be responsible for reviewing that information with guests as soon as they check in.
According to Garcia, around 2.7 million Americans visit the Dominican Republic each year.
He said: ‘We have always worked hard to create a safe environment and will continue to be vigilant with comprehensive programs and amplified standards that bolster the well-being of the six million tourists that visit the Dominican Republic each year.’
Since June 2018, 13 Americans have died in a variety of tragic incidents in the Dominican Republic.
Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, was the most recent after his death on June 17 shortly after he reportedly drank something and became critically ill at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.
‘We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something,’ Lisa Maria Caruso, Caruso’s sister-in-law, said.
The map above shows the deaths of 12 other American tourists in the Dominican Republic in the past year
Vittorio Caruso (left), 56, of Glen Cove, New York, died on June 17th at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo. Jerry Curran, 78, of Ohio, died in January while staying at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana. Their deaths bring the total number of American vacationers who died in the last year in the Dominican Republic to 12
‘We were told he wasn’t responding to any meds he was given and died.
Donette Edge Cannon, 38, died four days after arriving to the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana on May 14
‘I honestly don’t know exactly what happened, as we have been told conflicting stories from different people there.
Earlier last month it was learned that a retired police officer from Ohio became the 11th 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 reports.
‘He went to the Dominican Republic healthy and he just never came back,’ said daughter Kellie Brown.
Maryland couple Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort in San Pedro de Macoris.
An autopsy later confirmed they had died of respiratory failure caused by pulmonary edema – fluid on the lungs.
Jester’s body was returned home on April 4 but his mother is asking for more details about his death – saying ‘I would like to know the truth’.
The state department, however, claims there is no evidence linking Jester’s death to the other American fatalities.
TIMELINE: The 13 American tourists who mysteriously died in the Dominican Republic in the last year
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 2019: Jerry Curran, a 78-year-old who had served with the Bedford Police Department for 32 years, died while staying at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana.
March 17 2019: Jerome Jester Jr. of Forsyth, Georgia, died just a day after going sightseeing in the Caribbean nation.
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: Donette Edge Cannon, 38, from Queens 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, NY died at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.
June 18, 2019: Louisiana woman Susan Simoneaux, 59, died 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.
‘We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic in March 2019,’ a state department spokesperson told ABC News over the weekend.
‘We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide.’
Last month the family of Donette Edge Cannon, 38, from Queens revealed that she died four days after arriving at the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana on May 14.
Dominican authorities ruled that her cause of death was kidney failure.
‘Their conclusion was renal failure, but it never addressed what initially got her sick in the first place,’ her sister, Candace Edge Johnson, said after her death.
The shocked family hadn’t initially questioned the resort when Cannon got sick.
‘We were so traumatized that we didn’t think about these things,’ Johnson said. ‘I would’ve pursued the resort more about whether there was food poisoning, and the decisions made about hospitals with dialysis, and just their [lack of] urgency to alert people [for help].’
No evidence suggests that the deaths are linked, U.S. officials say, but the two latest families believe otherwise.
Most of the families of those who have died have shared that they are skeptical of the Dominican officials.
The FBI is now helping to investigate after the mysterious deaths.
Carlos Suero, who works for the Ministry of Public Health in the DR, said that dismissed the speculative reports as ‘hysteria’, saying they are part of an effort to undermine the island’s tourism.
‘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.’
Authorities who are scrambling to get to the bottom of the deaths are investigating whether they were possibly poisoned by bootleg liquor.
Officials in the Dominican Republic have insisted that the deaths are all isolated incidents but most of the victims were apparently healthy adults before their sudden deaths.
Several of them are known to have drank from their hotel room minibars before becoming extremely ill.
The other tourists who have died in the past year include: Joseph Allen, 55, David Harrison, 45, Robert Bell Wallace, 67, Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41; Couple Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49; Yvette Monique Sport, 51 and Leyla Cox, 53.
Three of them have died at the Grand Bahia Príncipe La Romana, two at the Hard Rock in Punta Cana, one at Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana, one at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville and one at the Terra Linda hotel.
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García 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