7 U.S. tourists have died of illness at Dominican resorts since January

Leyla Cox died at the Excellence resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. File Photo courtesy of Excellence resorts

une 14 (UPI) — A Staten Island, N.Y., woman died this week while vacationing in the Dominican Republican, bringing the number of Americans who have died due to illness at resorts in the Caribbean country to seven this year.

Will Cox told NBC News his mother, Leyla Cox, 53, died Tuesday while staying at the Excellence resort in Punta Cana. Leyla Cox, who often traveled alone, was found dead in her hotel room the day after her birthday.

The U.S. Embassy told her family the cause of death was ruled a heart attack, but Will Cox said he’s suspicious because of a recent spate of deaths at Dominican resorts in recent months.

“I truly believe if my mother was not in the Dominican Republic, she would have been alive right now,” he told the Staten Island Advance on Thursday. “With everything going on in the news right now, we think she’s a casualty of what’s been happening.”

Will Cox spoke with reporters about his mother’s death the same day an Ohio family revealed the death of 78-year-old Jerry Curran on Jan. 22. The State Department on Friday confirmed Jerry Curran died during a trip with his wife, Janet Curran, to Dreams Resort in Punta Cana.

His daughter, Kellie Brown, told WKYC-TV that officials told the family that Jerry Curran died of pulmonary edema, “which seems to be common in everyone else who’s passed that we’re learning about.”

“He went to the Dominican Republic health and he just never came back,” she said.

The family came forward with details on Jerry Curran’s death after hearing of other similar deaths of Americans in the country.

In May, a couple from Prince George’s County, Md., Nathaniel Edward Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day, died while staying at Luxury Bahia Bouganville resort in La Romana.

Hotel staff found the couple dead May 30 after they failed to check out of the resort on time. Officials listed their cause of death as respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.

At the same resort, Pennsylvania woman Miranda Schaup-Werner died May 25 shortly after checking in with her husband. Her brother-in-law said she “abruptly experienced acute physical distress, and collapsed” after consuming a drink from the minibar. McDonald said Schaup-Werner also died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, but Bahia Principe resorts said she died of a heart attack.

“To date, there are no indications of any correlation between those two unfortunate incidents,” the resort said.

Earlier this week, Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran told TMZ her brother, John Corcoran, died under similar circumstances in April. His friend discovered him dead in a hotel room — his cause of death was listed as heart attack.

Also in April, Californian Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. His niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News he became ill after having a scotch from the hotel minibar and was hospitalized.


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