Dominican Republic deaths: What we know, including two more US tourists incidents

Questions are swirling following the deaths of several tourists vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

This week brought news that two more Americans were found dead in their hotel rooms in the Caribbean vacation destination: Joseph Allen, 55, of Woodbridge, New Jersey, and Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, New York.

Cox died on June 10, the State Department confirmed to USA TODAY.

Allen's sister, Jamie Reed, told WABC-TV that his body was discovered the morning of June 13 in his hotel room at Terra Linda Resort in Sosua, located on the Caribbean country's northern coast. The previous night, he had complained to friends that he felt feverish and went to bed early.

WABC also reported an autopsy will be performed.

Here's everything we know so far about the deaths in the Dominican Republic:

What is happening in the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican Republic has been in headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

In May, Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63 and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found dead in their hotel room. Within a week, a woman from Pennsylvania, Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, died at the same hotel chain. One hotel is disputing the timeline of an alleged attack of a Delaware woman that also made news that week.

On top of that, David Ortiz, one of the most popular players in Boston Red Sox history, was shot in his native Dominican Republic June 9.

How many people have died?

At least seven Americans have died this year in the Dominican Republic, with questions being raised about what is going on.

In addition to the incidents detailed above a man (who the State Department has not identified by name) also became ill and later died on April 14.

The Maryland couple who died, Holmes and Day, each had internal bleeding, preliminary autopsy results showed, according to CNN. Holmes was found to have an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver, while Day had fluid in her brain.

Schaup-Werner reportedly died after drinking from his hotel's minibar.

The brother of "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran, New Jersey-native John Corcoran, also died in the Dominican Republic in April. But Corcoran says her brother's death was of natural causes related to an existing heart condition.

No official cause of death has been determined for any of the deceased so far.

Have there been other concerning incidents?

The short answer, yes.

Travelers are also reporting illness and other negative experiences.

A group of Jimmy Buffett fans, members of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, told Oklahoma TV station KFOR and NBC News that they became seriously ill while staying at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana in April.

And in May, a Delaware woman said in a Facebook post that she was beaten and left for dead in January, writing that a man in a uniform bearing the logo of her Punta Cana hotel, the Majestic Elegance Resort, attacked her, assaulting her badly enough to warrant a five-day hospital stay.

The Dominican Republic hotel, however, says the woman, Tammy Lawrence-Daley, demanded $2.2 million in compensation before going public with her story.

Where have these incidents happened?

The incidents have occurred at various proprieties across the Dominican Republic. Deaths have been reported at the following locations:

  • Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville (owned by Bahia Principe)

  • Bahía Príncipe hotel at the resort Playa Nueva Romana (owned by Bahia Principe)

  • Terra Linda in Sousa

  • Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana

Other incidents have been reported at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana, the Majestic Elegance Resort in Punta Cana and the Dial Bar and Lounge in Santo Domingo.

How does all this affect travel?

The U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic, which shares a border with Haiti, as a level 2 ("exercise increased caution") out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. Visitors to countries rated as 1 should "exercise normal precautions" while Americans are urged not to travel to countries rated as 4.

The Dominican Republic has held a 2 rating since the Travel Advisory system went into effect in 2018.

The most recent travel advisory, issued on April 15, noted, "Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic." It added, "The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale."

In a press release Wednesday, the Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic offered condolences to those affected by the recent incidents.

"While what happened is tragic and regrettable, (Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia) said it is important for everyone who wishes to disseminate information about the situation to do it in context and with perspective," the statement, provided to USA TODAY by spokesperson Callie Murphy, read. "It is advisable to wait for the official reports before speculating on the causes of death."

The Ministry of Tourism called the country a model of "operations and industry standards."

Contributing: David Oliver, Hannah Yasharoff, Jayme Deerwester, Jessica Bies

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dominican Republic deaths: What we know, including two more US tourists incidents