The FBI says at least 3 American tourists died of natural causes in the Dominican Republic, not tainted alcohol

Ellen Cranley
Dominican Republic

Flickr/David Stanley


  • The FBI announced that the deaths of three of the American tourists who died while visiting the Dominican Republic earlier this year were not due to tainted alcohol, The Hill's Justine Coleman reported.
  • The popular vacation destination came under scrutiny when reports over a spate of tourist deaths sparked fear about tainted alcohol or other mysterious conditions.
  • Since the rush of reports, a closer look at death records in the country shows 2019 wasn't an outlier year for tourist deaths.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The FBI announced that the deaths of three of at least nine American tourists who died earlier this year while visiting the Dominican Republic were not due to tainted alcohol, The Hill's Justine Coleman reported.

The development, which was based on toxicology tests performed on three deceased Americans, backs up what local authorities previously concluded about the deaths.

"Methanol poisoning from tainted alcohol was ruled out by the FBI in these cases during the toxicology screening, and it was not the finding in any other cases of US citizen deaths investigated by Dominican authorities," a State Department spokesperson told The Hill.

The popular vacation destination came under scrutiny earlier this year when reports over a spate of tourist deaths sparked fear about tainted alcohol or other mysterious conditions. The FBI launched an investigation to determine the causes of American deaths on the island.

Read more: 17 seemingly suspicious cases of tourists getting sick, assaulted, and dying in the Dominican Republic since June 2018

Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, and his fiancée Cynthia Day, 49, were two of the three individuals who underwent a toxicology examination, months after they were found dead in their hotel room on May 30 at the Bahía Príncipe hotel in La Romana. Authorities said the couple died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, an abnormal buildup of fluid in the lungs.

State Department figures show 10 Americans died while visiting the Dominican Republican in the first half of 2019. A spokesperson told Insider's Kelly McLaughlin in June that they hadn't seen an "uptick" in deaths this year. Records show 13 deaths in 2018 and 17 deaths in 2017.

Read more: The Dominican Republic's tourism minister and hospitality execs lashed out at 'fake news' over 'erroneous' coverage of tourist deaths this summer

Since the tests could only confirm three individuals died of natural causes, FBI officials told BuzzFeed News that its larger investigation into the deaths is ongoing.

"In the interest of providing as thorough an investigation as possible in this challenging case, the FBI is testing for two additional toxins and will provide Dominican authorities with results when tests are complete," FBI officials told BuzzFeed News.

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