The three Americans who died last week at a Sandals resort in the Bahamas were from Tennessee and Florida, and scientists and investigators are working to determine their causes of death, the island nation’s police commissioner said Monday.
A pathologist is slated to conduct autopsies Monday, Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Paul Rolle said. Foul play is not suspected in Friday’s deaths, Bahamian acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper has said.
Authorities are working on plans to repatriate the bodies of the deceased, and arrangements have been made to hand over their belongings to their representatives in the United States, Rolle said.
Forensic scientists are collecting samples from the deceased, and a lab in Philadelphia is helping with toxicology examinations, Rolle said. The lab expects results will be ready within seven days, he said. Scientists also collected samples from the victims’ rooms to check for contaminants, he said.
Officials declined to say whether any contaminants have been found in samples so far. Pathologists will provide an official report once the tests are complete, Rolle said.
Michael Phillips, 68, and his wife Robbie Phillips, 65, from Tennessee were declared dead at the resort Friday, as was Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, of Florida, who was found unresponsive in a separate room, police said.
A fourth American – Chiarella’s 65-year-old wife, Donnis Chiarella – was found with her husband. She was airlifted to a hospital in the Bahamian capital before being transferred to Miami’s Kendall Hospital, where she is in fair condition, said Jennifer Guerrieri, a spokesperson for Hospital Corporation of America’s east Florida division.
Their son, Austin Chiarella, told ABC News his mother “woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor, and she couldn’t move. Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn’t move and she screamed to get someone to come in the door.”
Donnis Chiarella told her son she became ill Thursday but after she was released from a clinic, she “thought she was alright,” according to ABC.
He said he was heartbroken over his father’s death. “My dad was everything to me,” he told ABC.
CNN’s efforts to reach Austin Chiarella have been unsuccessful.
The Phillips’ daughter, Caroline Phillips Fortenberry, sent CNN a statement Monday.
“Our hearts are grieving and broken but full of hope,” she wrote. “We know our mom and dad are experiencing fullness of joy in our heavenly Father’s presence. We already miss them terribly. Our parents left a legacy of faith in Jesus and generously loved their family and friends.”
Victims went to doctor night before
All four victims sought medical treatment before they were found in their rooms, the police commissioner said. They had eaten at different restaurants, he added.
“They were seen by the doctor the night before, and that would have been around 11, and they were discovered the next morning. So, we have the timeline … between 11 p.m. and 8:30 to 9 a.m.,” Rolle said.
The three deaths at Sandals Emerald Bay resort on Great Exuma were confirmed by Sandals spokesperson Stacy Royal, and the US State Department on Saturday also confirmed them.
“We can confirm the death of three US citizens in the Bahamas,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.”