Most Recent American Death in Dominican Republic Due to Heart Failure, Attorney General’s Office Says

Vittorio Caruso, the most recent American to die in the Dominican Republic, died from respiratory and heart failure after a long history of related-health problems, the country’s Attorney General’s office said, citing a preliminary autopsy report.

Caruso had suffered from hypertension, heart disease, and pulmonary disease for a long time, the office said.

Caruso is the 13th known American to die in the Dominican Republic in the last year. Local and US authorities maintain that the deaths are not related.

The US hasn’t issued a travel warning specific to the deaths in the Dominican Republic, and a US official said Friday there hasn’t been an unusual uptick in reported deaths there.

Caruso, from New York, had been living in the Boca Chica community near Santo Domingo for several years, prosecutors said. His partner, Yomaira Ramirez de Jesus, told prosecutors that Caruso began to cough and feel shortness of breath on June 11. He went to the doctor, was treated and released.

Almost a week later, Ramirez de Jesus says Caruso called her, complaining of respiratory distress and chest pain. She found him receiving medical attention at home, say prosecutors.

Caruso was then transferred to a Santo Domingo hospital, where he suffered from cardiorespiratory arrest and died.

Caruso had been battling hypertension for nine years, and had a long history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the attorney general’s office said.

New and previous heart attacks were detected by the autopsy, the office said. Caruso was a smoker and drank alcohol, per the autopsy results.

The body exhibited no signs of internal or external trauma, according to prosecutors.

The FBI has a team in the Dominican Republic assisting with the toxicology tests of three of the 10 known American deaths.

Some of those deaths could be related to alcohol. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, where two of the deaths occurred, said Sunday it would remove liquor dispensers from guest room minibars.

hard rock hotel
The entrance of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on June 20, 2019. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The hotel stated that they will hire an American healthcare company to “ensure the on-site health clinic is complying with all international and US standards,” Hard Rock told the New York Post in a statement.

All the food and drinks will be tested by a U.S. lab.

Two U.S. tourists died in the Hard Rock hotel at Punta Cana in the past year.

About 45 tourists have reported getting ill at the Hard Rock resort, according to The Post, and authorities are investigating if they were poisoned by bad liquor.

The top tourism official in the Dominican Republic minimized the series of deaths of the tourists as an exaggeration.

“It’s not true that there has been an avalanche of American tourists dying in our country, and it’s not true that we have mysterious deaths,” said Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, according to WTVR.

“We are deeply saddened by these unfortunate incidents, and extend our sincerest sympathy to the families of those affected,” Hard Rock said in the Friday statement. “Although the official reports state these incidents are unrelated, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana has taken steps, based on guest feedback, to improve the experience and enhance safety moving forward.”

NTD News reporter Samuel Allegri contributed to this report.

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