Chicago couple says they were 'poisoned' at same Dominican resort where 3 Americans died
A Chicago couple says they were forced to end their Caribbean vacation early after they were "poisoned" at the same Dominican Republic resort where three Americans died in May.
Kaylynn Knull and her boyfriend, Tom Schwander, were staying at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana in June 2018 contemplating a timeshare opportunity when their trip took a dramatic turn.
Knull told the Denver Channel the pair had just decided against purchasing the timeshare when they returned to their room and became violently ill.
"As soon as we came back to the room, we noticed it smelled like somebody had dumped paint everywhere," she told the outlet. "We were drooling excessively. My eyes would not stop watering."
The couple requested a room change but claims their bizarre symptoms continued to progress to the point where they chose to leave the hotel early, fearing for their lives.
"That night, we both woke up soaked in sweat at like four in the morning and kind of terrified," Knull recalled. "And we booked a flight home before the sun came up."
After arriving back home, the couple sought medical attention and were diagnosed with "likely organophosphate poisoning." Organophosphates are a type of human-made chemicals that are widely used in insecticides, according to the CDC.
Pesticides containing the toxic compound work by damaging an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase, which is critical for controlling nerve signals. The damage to this enzyme kills pests and may cause unwanted side effects in exposed humans.
Knull believes she and Schwander may have been sickened by pesticides used on plants throughout the resort.
"I was having the worst intestinal cramping I have ever experienced," she recalled. "It felt like a chainsaw going through my gut."
The couple filed a lawsuit against the resort following the incident seeking $1 million, but the case stalled in Dominican courts. However, after Knull learned of the recent mysterious deaths of three American tourists, she decided to speak out again about her experience.
"After family began to send me articles about the same hotel with people who were having the time of their lives only to be dead days later with no violence but the same symptoms... My heart has sank and I feel a need to speak up about our trip," she wrote on Instagram. "I hope everyone can listen to their intuition and move through harms way unscathed. We were apparently very lucky."
Knull was referencing the deaths of Nate Holmes, Cynthia Day and Miranda Schaup-Werner, all of whom died in a week-long span at different hotels at the Grand Bahia Principe.
Holmes, 63, and Day, 49, of Prince George's County, Md., were found dead on May 30 in their room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana by an employee after the two missed their scheduled checkout time.
Five days prior, Schaup-Werner, a 41-year-old Pennsylvania psychotherapist, died at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bourganville, which is located a four-minute walk from the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, according to Google maps. Schaup, who was traveling with her husband Daniel Werner, allegedly collapsed after having a drink at the all-inclusive resort on May 25 and was unable to be resuscitated.
All three of their deaths were officially attributed to respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
In a Wednesday statement, parent company Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts claimed that "to date, there are no indications of any correlation between these two unfortunate events."