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.
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.
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.”
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.
Dominican Republic Punta Cana trip is definitely cancelled, they killing folks out there. Ain’t tryna to go out like that while on vacation.
— Belynduh Mak (@prvbs31_typagal) June 6, 2019
I had a trip booked for June 28th to Punta Cana. Cancelled today.
— Jeff Macomber (@jmacomber75) June 11, 2019
“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.