Tourist says he experienced stomach pain while swimming in pool in Dominican Republic
Note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that John Corcoran died in a private house and not a hotel.
A Florida man has contributed to a list of disconcerting incidents in the Dominican Republic by coming forward with his own recent experience in the country, according to WTVT.
Jerry Martin of Plant City, Fla., told the station that he went to Punta Cana on May 17 to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife. A few days later, he started feeling sick while lounging at the pool.
"Fire in the bottom of my stomach," he said. "Pain, excruciating pain. We were down at the pool when it hit, and I had to go up and just lay down and hold my stomach. It was on fire."
Martin said he spent the rest of his trip in the bathroom and went straight to the hospital following his vacation. Since returning to the U.S., he has been to the emergency room five times and lost a significant amount of weight.
"I told my wife we won’t go out of the country again," he said.
Although Martin said he is unsure of whether his experience has any links to the seven other suspicious deaths that have occurred in the past year, he did have advice for others who have thought about vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
"Don't go," he said. "Just don't go."
In the past two months alone, four deaths have taken place throughout the island.
On April 14, Robert Wallace of Turlock, Calif., died several days after having a scotch in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana. Wallace's niece told Fox News that her uncle fell almost immediately sick after sipping his drink and "had blood in his urine and stool." The family is now waiting to receive Wallace's toxicology reports to determine his cause of death.
That same month, the brother of businesswoman and "Shark Tank" investor Barbara Corcoran died in a private home. While details surrounding his passing are scarce, Corcoran told TMZ that she learned that he died of a heart attack. An autopsy, however, has not been performed, she said.
On May 25, Miranda Schaup-Werner, a psychotherapist from Allentown, Pa., suddenly collapsed after having a drink in her room at the Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana. Even though Dominican authorities concluded that she died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, a family spokesman said that the police, along with the hotel, were trying to mislead the public about her death.
Five days after Schaup-Werner passed, Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead in their room at the nearby Bahia Principe La Romana. Authorities said they found medication for high blood pressure and determined that the two also died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
Since the deaths were publicized in recent weeks, Dominican officials have sought to calm fears about the country's safety. At a press conference last Thursday, Francisco Javier Garcia, the Dominican Republic's minister of tourism, suggested that the deaths were most likely coincidental.
"Sometimes in life there can be a law of sequences," he said. "Sometimes, nothing may happen to you in a year. But in another week, three things might happen to you."
The FBI is currently working with Dominican authorities on an investigation into at least three of the deaths.