Recent high school graduates become ill during senior trip to Dominican Republic

Students became ill after eating at a Japanese restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in the Dominican Republic. (Photo: Instagram)

A group of recent Deer Creek High School graduates, and some of their parents, traveled from Oklahoma to the Dominican Republic for their senior trip, only to become violently ill on their second day.

Liz McLaughlin, a parent, says that 40 graduates flew on Saturday June 8, and by the following Tuesday Tuesday night, some had become ill after eating at a Japanese restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Her daughter, Libby, was one of the students affected, according to KOTV.

“We just don’t know what is happening. Is it the water? Is it the ice? Is it the food? Is it the food handling? Is it the pesticides? We have no idea what’s going on,” she told the station.

One student, Bennet Hill, who also became ill on the trip, told KOCO that he wasn't sure what happened.

"I just woke up, and my stomach was cramping and I was sweating," Hill said. "I was freezing."

Hill states that six members of the group were all taken by ambulance to the hospital, where they were hooked up to IVs to rehydrate and received antibiotics and anti-nausea medicine.

The students and their parents were able to fly back to the United States on June 14 as planned.

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana is where two American tourists died over the last several months.

In April, Robert Wallace, a 67-year-old from California, died after drinking a scotch from his minibar. In July 2018, David Harrison died from an apparent heart attack, which his widow, Dawn McCoy, now finds suspicious.

“I accepted it,” McCoy told the Washington Post. “Then, when all these people started passing, I stopped and thought to myself, ‘How can all these people have the same cause of death as David? What is missing? What am I missing here?' ... I am a fighter and I accepted his death for what they said it was. Now, I’m sorry that I accepted it.”

The Dominican Republic's tourism minister, Francisco Javier García told the New York Times that the deaths are "isolated incidents," and that the country is safe for tourists.

In April, 47 other tourists from Oklahoma fell ill while visiting the Dominican Republic's Hotel Riu Palace Macao, which is also located in Punta Cana.

Both Dominican authorities and the FBI are investigating.

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