NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A growing crisis in the Dominican Republic has now reportedly claimed the life of a 12th American tourist.
Federal officials say a Queens mother’s mysterious death while on a family vacation to the island is part of a disturbing trend in the Caribbean.
“We miss and love my cousin so much,” Kristen Bledsoe said.
A little more than a year ago, Bledsoe was on a flight to the Dominican Republic with her cousin, Donette Edge Cannon. At the time, she never thought Donette, a mother to four children, would never make the return trip home.
“Just shocking I was like, wow this is happening?”
The family says all members of their group who visited the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana in May of 2018 felt sick during their stay.
“After every time we were eating and drinking though, we were not feeling well, we were using the bathroom a lot, we’re like well what’s the problem?”
On the last day, Donette began complaining of severe stomach pains and started vomiting. Her family said she did have known health issues, but they don’t know why she got sick to begin with.
“So we were like what’s wrong, she did suffer from diabetes and kidney issues, but we thought what is the problem, what’s going on?”
Cannon died that same day at a local hospital. The cause was ruled as kidney failure. Her family says the hospital did not have a dialysis machine.
“It’s still questionable, we want answers,” Bledsoe demanded.
Now they’re wondering if her death was just the start of a bigger problem.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department confirmed the death of three more Americans in the last three years, including Cannon’s.
Law enforcement sources tell CBS2 the FBI now has a team in the country to investigate.
The Caribbean nation’s tourism minister however, is disputing any mystery theories.
“All of the deaths that have occurred… the causes have been determined and the results are… there does not exist, there does not exist any mystery as to how they died in the Dominican Republic,” Francisco Javier Garcia claimed.
Garcia even accused the State Department of exaggerating the reports, but Donette’s family have their doubts, no matter what Dominican officials say.
“It was sad and I hope everyone can get answers and they can find out what is causing this issue on these deaths,” Bledsoe said.
CBS2 reached out to the resort company who said that particular resort has changed management since Cannon’s death.
List Of Recent American Deaths In The Dominican Republic
- June 17, 2019: Vittorio Caruso, 56, from Glen Cove, N.Y.
Died after “drinking something,” cause of death not officially determined.
- June 13, 2019: Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, N.J.
Died at Terra Linda resort in Sosua, Dominican Republic. Cause of death yet to be officially determined.
- June 10, 2019: Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, N.Y.
Died at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana. Cause of death in DR ruled a heart attack.
- May 30, 2019: Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland.
Died at the Grand Bahia Principe in La Romana. DR officials ruled cause of death as respiratory failure, along with Cynthia Day.
- May 30, 2019: Cynthia Day, 49, of Maryland.
Died at the Grand Bahia Principe in La Romana. DR officials ruled cause of death as respiratory failure, along with Nathaniel Holmes.
- May 25, 2019: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pa.
Died at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana. Cause of death ruled heart attack and respiratory failure.
- March 27, 2019: Orlando Moore, 40, of Westchester County, N.Y.
Body recovered from the sea near San Souci on March 31, linked to a traffic crash on March 27 with Ravenelle.
- March 27, 2019: Portia Ravenelle, 52, of Westchester County, N.Y.
Found alive on highway in DR, later died of injuries at a hospital, linked to a traffic crash on March 27 with Moore.
- April 12, 2019: Robert Wallace, 67, of California.
Died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana of a heart attack after being served a scotch at the bar.
- April 2019: John Corcoran of Turlock, California
Death in DR reported by CNN through his sister, “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran.
- July 2018: David Harrison of Maryland.
Died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana of a heart attack.
- June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport of Pennsylvania.
According to CNN reports, she died after drinking from her hotel room’s mini-bar at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana.
- May 2018: Donette Edge Cannon of Queens, N.Y.
Died at hospital of kidney failure after stay in Punta Cana.