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Dominican tourism vows 'disciplinary action' if US tourist death probe finds negligence

The Dominican Republic's tourism minister said on Friday that if the investigation into the rash of deaths of the US

In an exclusive interview with Fox News, the Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia expressed his confidence that the deaths were all rooted in natural causes and insisted that it

"We wish these things did not happen," he said. "But, unfortunately, they do … That's why we're interested in knowing what's happened to them."

Garcia stressed that autopsy reports that were done following the deaths of most of the tourists showed that there was nothing nefarious, and acknowledged the toxicological tests the FBI is conducting in its research center in Quantico, Va., in the deaths of three Americans who died in their rooms at the Bahia Principe resorts.

"If there is something that went wrong, we will take the disciplinary measures that are warranted, "Garcia said. "We will act."

The FBI told Fox News on Friday that it has sent a team to the Dominican Republic to investigate the deaths

Earlier in the day, Garcia held a press conference to make the case that the popular Caribbean vacation spot was safe and that it did not deserve the negative attention triggered by worldwide headlines about the rash of US tourist deaths. The Dominican Republic has signed a $ 35,000 monthly contract with the New York-based Rubenstein public relations powerhouse to fight the negative publicity.

As Dominican officials tried to quell rising concerns amongst potential travelers around the world about safety there, the State Department on Friday confirmed to Fox News the death of a New York business owner, Vittorio Caruso, 56, who died after becoming critically ill at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo

 Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, NY [19659010] Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, NY
      <span class= (Courtesy of Lisa Caruso)

Caruso's death is the third in a seven-day span in June, and he's the 11th American tourist to die in Dominican Republic since last year. The case of another tourist, a woman from Pennsylvania who died in 2016 under similar circumstances, was made public by her family this past week after they read about the others and detected common threads

The two other U.S. Leyla Cox, a 53-year-old MRI technician from New York who was found dead in her hotel room on June 10, and Joseph Allen, 55, from New Jersey, who died in his room on June 13.

Caruso's sister-in-law, Lisa Maria Caruso, told Fox News that Vittorio was in good health and had owned and operated a pizzeria in New York with his brother until a month ago. She said that he would travel alone to the Dominican Republic


" We found out that he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something, "Caruso said. "We were told that he was not responding to any meds he was given and died."

"It is very hard to know what happened, as we have been told conflicting stories from different people there. get a straight story from anyone there, "she said, adding that her relatives are waiting for the autopsy report. "It was a complete shock to us, as Vittorio was not a sick person," Caruso said.

 Chris Palmer with Granddaughter Ruby

Chris Palmer with Granddaughter Ruby
       (Courtesy of Bernadette Hiller)

On Thursday, Garcia told Fox News that the Tourism Ministry has tested the alcohol, food, water, kitchens and other areas of the resorts where U.S. tourists have died.

"There are no mysterious deaths here,

From the outset, Dominican officials have denounced the characterization of the deaths as mysterious or in some way linked. "Garcia said in a Friday interview with Fox News." "Mysterious" implies that things happened that science can not explain. "

Garcia struck a sympathetic tone when asked what he would tell the deceased tourists' relatives, who have uniformly told stories (19659003) JUAN WILLIAMS: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC HAS NOT BEEN TRANSPARENT OR CLEAR 'AMID RESORT DEATHS ]

Like Caruso, the relatives have said that the tourists, who range from 41 to 78, were in relatively good health and showed no signs of illness before traveling to the Dominican Republic.

Several tourists died shortly after drinking a minibar drink

"To the people who have lost their loved ones here, we want to say that when we've learned about each one, it's been the worst news we've received, "Garcia said. "When these people come to the Dominican Republic, just like when someone goes on holiday, you go happy, your family expects to see you again. When this happens, there is a pain and a sense of tragedy.

Will Cox and his mother, Leyla Cox “/>

Will Cox and his mother,

Leyla Cox
       (Courtesy of Will Cox)

"We have become the favorite destination for Americans first because of how we treat them," he said, "second, because of God's natural resources God blessed the Dominican Republic with, and third, because of the excellent hotels and resorts, of which are of a standard above that of facilities in other countries. "

Attorneys and relatives of the US tourists assailed efforts by Dominican officials to depict the deaths as a unfortunate twist of fate and promote the country as a desirable vacation spot.


Steve Bullock, an attorney representing the families of Edward Holmes, 63, and his son Cynthia Day, 47, who were both found dead in their room on May 30 at the five-star Grand Bahia Principe La Romana resort, said: "That kind of reckless statement is repulsive and repugnant. "

Holmes and Day will be buried next week, Bullock said.

In a interview with Fox News host Harris Faulkner, Meghan Arnold – whose father Chris Palmer, an Army a veteran, was found dead in his resort room on April 18, 2018 – said she was shocked that Dominican officials seem to resist seeing the rash of deaths of otherwise healthy people as mysterious

"Honestly I Have No Words," she said when Faulkner a sked for her reaction to the tourism ministry's press conference. "I do not understand how anyone can see – what is this, 11 deaths now? They all have somewhat the same [offical cause of death]they're all in the same area. "I do not know where to go, but I can not see it anywhere," and I completely agree. ] "I'm just fighting to find answers," Arnold said. "I feel for all of these other families because I know how hard this process is and I just feel that we all need to work together as a team, [let’s] come forward and report these. it figured out … because nobody deserves this. "

Garcia said that statistically, the Dominican Republic has far fewer US

The US State Department website shows that between 2012 and 2018, 128 Americans died in the Dominican Republic from something other than natural causes. Dominican officials have been highlighting that statistics to argue that the country is safe, given that more than 2 million U.S. tourists visit there every year.

What is not clear, however, is how many U.S.

When asked by Fox News on repeated occasions what the annual number of such deaths is, neither the U.S. Dominican authorities and US Dominican authorities

The FBI report on toxicology results, as well as tests of relatives that have done here, will shed light on what caused the back of deaths

Former FBI Special Agent Manny Gomez said on Fox News that while, as Dominican officials have stressed, people do die on vacation all over the world, the similarities of the US tourists deaths seem extraordinary. In almost every case, the cause of death was considered a heart attack, and many of the tourists consumed a beverage before dying.

"I see something that's happening that's very suspicious," Gomez said. "These deaths have occurred in different resorts, it has not been a resort, it's been at several different resorts in a short amount of time."

Gomez theorized it could be alcohol laced with methanol, "or another poisonous substance . "

He said he would be" criminal in nature because people have been hurt and dying, there are dozens of people who have gotten severely ill, worse than we do not know how many other bad battles are out there . "

" That's why the FBI is there, "Gomez said. "The next phase in the investigation, if they find that there is a toxic substance, they have to find out where it came from and stop it, [find out] where it came from and who is responsible. good work they do. "

Garcia said they asked for help from the FBI because they lack the resources that agency has in the US

" We're interested in knowing what caused "the deaths, he said. 19659003] Meanwhile, social media is filled with debate about whether there should be a concern about vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Many said they were canceling reservations, but many others said they believed that the deaths were just fate and that the island is safe

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