Dominican Republic Tourist Deaths- What to Know About Safety
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Caruso, 56, died on June 17 after staying at the Boca Chica Resort in Santo Domingo.
His family told Fox News that he had been traveling by himself and he was in good health.
His sister-in-law, Lisa Maria Caruso, said Caruso was taken to a hospital in respiratory distress after “drinking something.”
The family is still awaiting autopsy reports but said they have been told “conflicting stories from different people” about the circumstances surrounding Caruso’s death. Other high-profile incidents
David Ortiz , the former Red Sox slugger, was ambushed on June 9 while sitting outside a lounge bar in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital and largest city. Surveillance footage of the attack shows a motorist approaching Ortiz and opening fire, striking the retired baseball star and others in his group.
Dominican authorities on June 17 identified the man they believe paid hit men to try and kill Ortiz, adding that they were closing in on the mastermind and motive behind the shooting, the Associated Press reported. Authorities have 10 people in custody related to the shooting and are looking for at least two others.
Dozens of members of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association , a group for fans of Jimmy Buffet and trop rock, say they fell “seriously ill” days into their stay at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana in April. Related TSA Says This Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Souvenir Will Not Be Welcome On Flights
Dana Flowers, a member and the travel agent, tells TIME that 47 of the 114 members traveling with the group got sick almost immediately, including him.
“It was as bad as it gets,” he says.”Three days in we started noticing people did not make it to concerts and events, it was then we realized they were all sick. It all happened pretty quickly and in pretty good numbers, it was obvious that something is not right. We all thought it was food poisoning and so we went with that, you know this kind of thing happens occasionally, but then the numbers grew and we knew it was a serious issue.”
Flowers says a few members of the group visited the resort’s doctor who gave patients medication for parasites.
RIU Hotels & Resorts, where the group, stayed tells TIME that doctors at the hotel treated three patients for gastroenteritis and were not able to determine the source of their stomach flu. How safe is the Dominican Republic?
State Department issued a level two (out of four) safety warning for the Dominican Republic in April 2019. The warning advises travelers exercise increased caution due to violent crime in the country, which include armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault. The State Department says that resort areas tend to be better policed and safer that urban areas for travelers.
Bradley, the International SOS analyst, says there is likely a reasonable explanation for the spate of tourist deaths.
“It’s the mystery around the deaths that is driving the speculation,” he tells TIME. “American tourists pass away frequently around the world, several in a day, it’s not unusual. But it is unusual hearing about Americans passing away abroad without it being something like a terrorist attack. We usually don’t hear about tourists dying of heart attacks or in their sleep, but that happens everyday with tourist traveling abroad, it is nothing unique to the Dominican Republic.” Related U.S. Customs Processing System is Down at Major Airports
He says prospective travelers who are concerned about the recent deaths, should make sure they have a plan for what to do if they get ill. Bradley suggests travelers should have the phone number for the best nearby hospitals and should check with their insurance providers to make sure they will be covered while traveling. He says travelers can ask hotels whether they offer on-site medical assistance. Travelers can also make arrangements to get immediate medical care back home if they have to leave unexpectedly.
“I don’t think people should distrust Dominican officials,” he adds. “They’re working with what they have. Like they said, 2 million Americans visit DR (Dominican Republic) every year and only a handful have died.”
Bradley says he would advise anyone worried about traveling to the Dominican Republic to take the same precautions they would when going anywhere else.
“These incidents, while recent, in my mind don’t indicate Dominican Republic is any less safe than it was before,” Bradley says. “I would tell people to continue with trips.”
Considering the level two safety ranking from the State Department, Bradley advises travelers not to go anywhere alone, especially at night. And if you do wander on your own, Bradley says , let a companion know when you plan on returning so they can be aware something is amiss if you do not return. “Travel has risk,” Bradley says. “People should be aware before they travel where they are going and plan accordingly, if they do, they usually travel safely.”
Dr. Robert Quigley, Senior Vice President and Regional Medical Director of International SOS says travelers should take extra precaution with their health when away from home.
He advises travelers to visit a doctor prior to embarking on their trip, especially if they might have a chronic medical condition or cardiovascular disease. Quigley says sleep deprivation and stress can “exacerbate underlying, and sometimes asymptomatic, serious cardiovascular diseases.” Related