Nearly 50 Jimmy Buffett fans reportedly fall ill in Dominican Republic
Nearly 50 members of a Jimmy Buffet fan club got sick while vacationing in the Dominican Republic in April, KFOR reports.
Dana Flowers, a travel agent and member of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association, told the station that 47 out of the 114 people who traveled to the island for a get-together fell ill while staying at the Hotel Riu Palace Macao in Punta Cana.
"Four or five days we were having a good time but then by the middle of the week people were beginning to get sick," he said.
Flowers, who was among those who got sick, said that at one point he was too ill to even leave his room.
"Lost 14 pounds during that time and was really sick," he said. "I can't even explain how sick I was."
Flowers said that all of the people who became sick — including himself — drank at the swim-up pool bar or swam in the swim-up pool. Some of them eventually tested positive for salmonella, although Flowers says he did not.
In a statement to Inside Edition, the hotel acknowledged the incident but denied any responsibility.
"We are aware that three guests staying last April at this hotel and coming from the same group (of 120 people) were attended by a possible case of gastroenteritis in our doctor's office," the statement read. "These events occurred after an external activity of this group outside the hotel, so we can not determine the exact origin of the stomach upset."
Flowers' experience is one of several incidents that have taken place in the Caribbean country in the past year. Since April, six American tourists alone have died.
On April 14, Robert Wallace of California died after sipping scotch from his room's minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana. That same month, John Corcoran, the brother of businesswoman and 'Shark Tank' investor Barbara Corcoran, was found dead in a private home more than 150 miles away by a friend. Despite earlier reports claiming that his death was mysterious, John's daughter told People that he had had a heart condition and that the family has the answers they need.
Last month, on May 25, Miranda Schaup-Werner of Pennsylvania suddenly collapsed in her room at the Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana after having a drink. She later died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, according to Dominican authorities. Five days following Schaup-Werner's passing, Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day were found dead at the nearby Bahia Principe La Romana. Dominican officials said they died of the same illness as Schaup-Werner, although the FBI is now investigating all three deaths.
Leyla Cox of New York City died last Tuesday while staying at the Excellence Resort in Punta Cana. Her son and only child, William Cox, told SILive.com that U.S. Embassy officials said she died of a heart attack. Her family, however, has expressed suspicion.
"With everything going on in the news right now, we think she’s a casualty of what’s been happening," he said.
Other tourists have come forward with their own traumatic experiences.
Earlier this month, Awilda Montes, also of New York, told the New York Daily News that she vomited blood after drinking what she thought was 7Up from her room's minibar at the Bahia Principe Bouganville. Last week, Jerry Martin, who visited the Dominican Republic from Florida, told WTVT that he experienced stomach pain after swimming in a pool.