As authorities investigate the unexplained deaths of three Americans at a resort in the Dominican Republic, a Colorado couple who stayed at the same facility last year said they became violently ill after being exposed to what they suspect were insecticides spread through the air conditioning system.
Kaylynn Knull, 29, and her boyfriend Tom Schwander, 33, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the owners of Grand Bahia Principe Hotel La Romana, blaming them for causing their sickness in June 2018.
In an interview with CNN, Knull said the recent deaths of a Maryland couple and a Pennsylvania woman within days of each other at the same Dominican Republic hotel complex made her angry and sad.
“My blood boiled. It made me want to scream. It made me want to cry,” Knull said. “There’s something going on. What happened to us may be related to what happened to them.”
Last month, Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63 and Cynthia Day, 49, were found unresponsive in their hotel room at the resort in La Romana. Authorities in the Dominican Republic said a preliminary autopsy found that the couple suffered respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, caused by excess lung fluid. Day also suffered a cerebral edema. Five days earlier, 41-year-old Miranda Schaup-Werner died in her room with her husband nearby. The couples checked in on the same day – May 25.
According to the Attorney General’s Office of the Dominican Republic, a preliminary autopsy on Schaup-Werner showed she suffered from a heart attack, pulmonary edema and respiratory failure. Toxicology results are pending and the deaths remain under investigation by authorities in the Dominican Republic.
Jay McDonald, a spokesman for the Schaup-Werner family, said they were working with authorities in the United States to gather more information.
“Our goal here is answers. We want to understand what happened,” he said, adding that the couple was in the Dominican Republic to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary.
A spokeswoman for the hotel would not comment on Knull and Schwander’s allegations, citing the pending litigation. She said the deaths of Holmes, Day and Schaup-Werner were isolated events and that there “are no indications of any correlation between these two unfortunate incidents.”
Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia sought to downplay the deaths when speaking to reporters Thursday. “In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation. … These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”
The recent deaths have prompted others who vacationed in the Dominican Republic to come forward with their own bad experience at the Bahia resort.
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