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‘We’re a Safe Destination’: Dominican Resort Desperately Trying to Save Reputation Amid Reports Another American Died There Last Year

The sister of a Pennsylvania woman is speaking out after she claims her sibling died at the same Dominican Republic resort last year where three American tourists were recently discovered dead.

Felecia Nieves said her sister, 51-year-old Yvette Monique Sport of Glenside, Pennsylvania, died while vacationing with her fiancé at the Bahia Principe Resort in Punta Cana last June, according to FOX 24. An autopsy listed “heart attack” as the cause of death.

Dominican Republic

Relatives of Yvette Sport, 51, say she died after having a drink from the mini bar id her hotel room at the Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (FOX 29 / video screenshot)

After grabbing a drink from the mini-bar in her hotel room, her sister went to bed and didn’t rise to see the next day, Nieves said. She insisted Yvette was in good health prior to going on vacation. 

“She was 51 years of age, relatively healthy,” she told the station. “No reason for her to go on vacation and die so suddenly.”

In an eerily similar turn of events, Miranda Schaup-Werner of Allentown, Pennsylvania, died of similar causes at the Bahia Principe Bouganville in San Pedro de Macoris on May 25. A spokesman for Schaup-Werner’s family said the 41–year–old “died suddenly and inexplicably in her hotel room” after having a drink from a minibar.

Her husband, Daniel Werner, was present when she began experiencing physical distress and collapsed. The couple was on the island celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary when tragedy struck.

Maryland couple Cynthia Ann Day, 49, and Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, who’d checked into the nearby Grand Bahia Principe La Romana earlier that day, would meet the same fate just five days later. The newly engaged couple was found dead in their hotel room, an autopsy listing their causes of death as respiratory failure, enlarged hearts and pulmonary edema, which is a build up of fluid in the lungs.

“It makes me question at this point is this cause of death even true,” Nieves said of her late sister after the recent string of deaths. She said authorities promised they would receive a toxicology report within three months. It’s been a year and the Nieves family says they still have nothing.

Now they’re calling on U.S. officials to step in and investigate.

“I think the State Department needs to step in and investigate these deaths,
 Yvette’s fiancé, Howard Taltoan, told FOX 29, “[because] something is not right.”

Jay McDonald, a spokesman for the Schaup-Werner family, echoed those concerns last week after news of Day and Holmes’ deaths, telling Fox News: “This just puts this whole thing through the stratosphere — something is going on, and we want to know what it is.”

FOX 29 questioned the State Department about the recent American deaths in the D.R. and was referred to the agency’s website, which showed that 13 American deaths were reported in 2018. Sport’s death wasn’t included, however, after Dominican officials ruled her death was from natural causes.

“That’s even more disturbing because why wouldn’t she be listed,” Nieves told the station. “My sister Yvette is probably one of many people unreported and unknown because families like mine, even shocked, decided to sit on it, didn’t know if was true or not true. [It] just didn’t make sense.”

The deaths, along with the alleged assault of a Delaware woman, have raised new alarm about traveling to the island paradise. Now, officials with the all-inclusive island resort are arguing that the spread “misinformation” about the recent incidents have put them in danger and tarnished the reputation of the resort group.

In a statement to local paper Dominican Today, the Piñero Group, which manages the resort chain, said its workers have even faced death threats.

“As a result of the erroneous information that has been published, with which we do not agree, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts has suffered great damage to its image and reputation,” the statement reads. “Serious insults and threats have been imposed on some of our more than 15,000 employees and their families, who are the backbone of our company and for whom we can not remain on the sidelines.

It continued: “We reiterate our firm commitment to cooperate fully with the authorities and we expect a quick resolution of your consultations and actions, and we will not make any other statements that could interfere with them.”

The group didn’t say what “misinformation” was spread, however.

Last week, the State Department said it’s “actively monitoring” the D.R.’s investigations into the “tragic” deaths, but said so far, it has found “no connection between these incidents.”

An official with the Dominican Republic Hotel and Tourism Association declared at a recent news conference, “Really, we’re a safe destination.”

Watch more in the video below.

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