People Canceling Trips to Dominican Republic Amid Slew of Deaths

By Zachary Stieber

Americans are canceling planned vacations to the Dominican Republic after the number of deaths in the last 12 months reached seven in recent days.

The problem was brought to public attention on May 30 when a Maryland couple was found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana. It was soon revealed that a Pennsylvania woman died at the same resort just five days prior.

Another Pennsylvania woman died at the same resort in June 2018, her sister said recently while a Maryland man, David Harrison, died elsewhere in the country last year, his wife said.

Over the weekend, the sixth and seventh deaths were disclosed. Family members said that Robert Bell Wallace, a 67-year-old California man, became sick and eventually died in April after getting a drink from his hotel room’s minibar. Harrison and Wallace both died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana. And the mother of Terrence Richmond said her son died under mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic in August 2018.

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Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day, in a file photo, were found dead in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana on May 30, 2019. (Cynthia Day/Facebook)

The deaths came as another American woman said she was brutally beaten at a Dominican resort earlier this year; as a Colorado couple said they barely survived a violent illness there last year; and as baseball legend David Ortiz was recently ambushed and shot while at a club in the country’s capital, Santo Domingo.

The incidents have prompted a number of people to reconsider traveling to the country. Harrison’s wife, Dawn McCoy, was among them: she said that she scuttled a trip she planned to take to the Caribbean country on the first anniversary of her husband’s death.

“Bottom line was we were not going to go there,” another Washington-area resident, MiMi Levine, told WJLA.

“We were either going to lose all our money or we were going to get to go somewhere else.”

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Leo Ortiz, center, father of former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz talks with journalists at the hospital where his son was hospitalized after being shot in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on June 9, 2019. (Ricardo Hernandez/AP Photo)

Levine said she and a friend were planning to stay at one of the resorts where Americans died.

Maria Hudson said she and her boyfriend were going to Punta Cana but axed the trip after reading about the deaths.

“It was pretty much like a no-brainer,” Hudson told CBS. “They don’t really have a clear explanation as to what’s happening … we’re not even gonna risk it. We don’t want to be next.”

Social media users have expressed concern about the deaths, which have prompted a probe by the FBI and CDC. Some said they would no longer be going to the Dominican Republic in light of so many fatalities.

“Just canceled my DR trip! Entirely too much going on over there!” one user wrote.

“I was going to go to Dominican Republic but they are officially canceled in my books,” added another.

“Dominican Republic Punta Cana trip is definitely canceled, they killing folks out there. Ain’t tryna to go out like that while on vacation,” said another.

“My wife and I have canceled our trip to the Dominican Republic!” said another.

“I had a trip booked for June 28th to Punta Cana. Canceled today,” said another.