A man from New York died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic earlier this month, according to a U.S. State Department official, making him the 13th American tourist to have died during or after their stay in the Caribbean nation.
The official confirmed the death in response to questions from CNN about media reports regarding the man, whose family said he suddenly became ill and died last Monday.
The State Department official did not offer details on the man’s identity or cause of death, but a family member identified him as Vittorio Caruso, 56, of Glen Cove, Long Island, according to CNN affiliate News 12 Long Island.
Caruso’s sister-in-law, Lisa Maria Caruso, told News 12 Long Island that Vittorio Caruso died after suffering respiratory distress and possibly a heart attack while on vacation.
The family received a phone call saying Caruso was sick, she said. Minutes later, they received a second call telling them he had died, the station reported.
According to Lisa Maria Caruso, her brother-in-law was enjoying part of his retirement in the Dominican Republic after he sold a Glen Cove pizza shop he’d owned with his brother for the past 12 years, News 12 Long Island reported.
CNN has reached out to Caruso’s family for comment.
The Dominican Republic National Police confirmed to CNN that Caruso died at a hospital in Santo Domingo. According to police, he’d been receiving medical attention since June 11.
He died of respiratory failure, police said, citing the physician. An autopsy is pending.
The spate of deaths has led some Americans to wonder whether they should cancel upcoming trips to the Dominican Republic. But officials there have tried to assure travelers the deaths are isolated events.
CNN has previously reported that the deaths could potentially be related to alcohol. The FBI is helping local authorities with toxicology tests in at least three of the recent deaths.
Sunday, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana said it was removing liquor dispensers from guest room minibars. The resort said the decision was made independently and not as a result of two deaths that occurred at its property.
Recent Cases Involving the Dominican Republic
April 2019: A 67-year-old Californian man, whose niece said he was healthy, died after collapsing in his hotel room.
Robert Bell Wallace had a scotch in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana, his niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News.
“He was fine,” Arnold said. “He and his wife arrived there at around midnight on April 10. On April 11 he had scotch from the minibar. He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward.”
A hotel doctor cleared Arnold, then said on April 13 that he should be checked into a hospital. The man died the next day. The family has not been told what caused Wallace’s death. “We have so many questions,” Arnold said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
During the same month, “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran’s brother John Corcoran died, she said on June 12. His family later said that they believe the death was from natural causes.
May 2019: On May 25, Pennsylvania woman Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, collapsed while drinking in her room at the Bahia Principe Bouganville.
Jay McDonald, a family spokesperson, told Fox News that the woman, who was healthy, had a drink before sitting down and snapping a selfie. She stood up and then collapsed.
“She started shrieking and she dropped to the floor. He attempted to do CPR, he tried to resuscitate her,” he said. Paramedics rushed to the room and injected her with epinephrine, a treatment for allergies, before declaring her dead.
The same day of the death, Maryland couple Cynthia Day, 49, and, Nathaniel Holmes, 63, arrived at the same resort, checking into the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana. They were found dead in their room five days later.
Autopsies indicated they died from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, which is caused by excess fluid in the lungs, though toxicology results are pending.
June 2019: Retired Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz was ambushed outside a club in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, and shot in the back.
Ortiz was rushed to the hospital, stabilized, and later flown to the United States.
Video footage showed the attack and one of the suspects being beaten by bystanders afterward.
Two deaths were reported in June.
Leyla Cox, a 53-year-old New Yorker, died on June 10 at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana. A New Jersey man, 55-year-old Joseph Allen, was found dead in his hotel room at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua on June 13.
The CNN wire contributed to this article