American Man Died at Dominican Republic Resort Just Weeks Before 3 Others on Island

Punta Cana
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About a month before a Pennsylvania woman and a Maryland couple died within days of each other in their rooms at a Dominican Republic resort, another American tourist fell suddenly and critically ill at a hotel on the other side of the island, loved ones said.

Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, became sick almost immediately after he had a scotch from the minibar in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino resort in Punta Cana on April 11, his niece Chloe Arnold told Fox News.

“He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward,” Arnold said of her uncle, who had arrived in the country with his wife a day earlier. They were there to attend his stepson’s wedding.

Wallace’s condition worsened and he was hospitalized April 13 after being checked by a hotel doctor, Arnold said.

He died April 14. His cause of death remains unknown, Arnold said.

“We have so many questions,” she said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

At the same Hard Rock resort last year, another American man died under similar circumstances, the man’s wife said.

David Harrison and his wife, Dawn McCoy, were celebrating their wedding anniversary with their 12-year-old son last July when he suddenly became ill, she told Inside Edition.

Harrison’s death was ruled a heart attack, but McCoy said her husband was in excellent health at the time. He had a physical shortly before the trip and, with the exception of high blood pressure, which he kept in check with medication, he had a clean bill of health. 

"We were having a great time ... and we ended up coming home as a broken family," McCoy said. "My husband's story needs to be told ... something's not right in the Dominican Republic."

McCoy came forward with her husband’s story after learning of the recent deaths on the island. Within five days, three U.S. tourists died in their rooms at hotels owned by the Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts group, a different hotel chain than where McCoy and her husband stayed. 

“I started seeing all these other people that were dying of the same exact causes, which made me start to second guess,” McCoy told WTOP-TV. “I no longer feel like my husband died of natural causes.” 

Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, and husband Dan Werner checked in to the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville on May 25 to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary. Schaup-Werner died that same day from what authorities said was a heart attack. 

Also that day, Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, checked in to the Bahia Principe La Romana hotel, which is next door to the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville. They were found dead on May 30.

The Dominican Republic’s national police said the couple died from respiratory failure, CBS reported.

Yvette Monique Sport, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, died at a hotel within the same resort complex in June 2018, her sister Felecia Nieves told FOX 29 Philadelphia.

"She was 51 years of age, relatively healthy, no reason for her to go on vacation and die so suddenly," Nieves told FOX 29.

Sport had a drink from the minibar inside her hotel room, went to bed and never woke up, Nieves said.

“Heart attack” was listed as the cause of death.

“It makes me question at this point, is this cause of death even true," Nieves said. “We were promised within three months that we would receive a toxicology report, to this day, which is almost a year now, we’ve got nothing.”

The U.S. State Department confirmed Sport's death to Fox News, saying in an email: "Ms. Sport passed away at a different Bahia Principe hotel in Punta Cana, approximately 50 miles from the Nueva Romana hotels. Out of respect for the privacy of her family, we have no further comment at this time."

A Colorado couple told Inside Edition they became seriously ill at the resort complex's Grand Bahia Principe hotel last summer as well. 

Kaylynn Knull said she and her boyfriend enjoyed their vacation until they noticed their room beginning to smell of chemicals. They said they suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, stomach cramps and shortness of breath. 

"We both woke up soaked in sweat at 4 a.m.," Knull said. 'We were kind of terrified. We booked a flight home before the sun came up."

They were sick for six weeks. A doctor in the U.S. told them they had been poisoned by a pesticide and they're now suing the hotel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the couple’s claims of being poisoned.  

"There is no indication of any correlation between these unfortunate incidents," Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts said in a statement.

The FBI is investigating the three most recent deaths.

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