A Georgia man is believed to be the 12th American to have passed away either during or after a visit to the #DominicanRepublic.
Tracy Jerome Jester Jr. died in March while on vacation in the Dominican Republic, a death previously unreported despite nine mysterious American tourist deaths since April and 11 in the past year, @forbes reports.
Jester died of “respiratory illness,” following a day of sightseeing, his mother Melody Moore said. Jester was vacationing with his sister when he suddenly began to vomit and complained that he couldn’t breathe.
The issue is, no toxicology report was ordered as he died before other tourist deaths were reported and now his family joins other families demanding answers about the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.
Government officials maintain that these are isolated events but families are putting pressure on officials to give them more information.
According to the U.S. State Department, there is no “uptick” in the number of American deaths in the Dominican Republic despite the recent media attention.
“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic in March 2019. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide,” said a spokesperson in a statement.
“I would like to know the truth,” Moore said. According to ABC News, she reached out to the FBI for help but hasn’t met with the agency on the matter.
U.S. House representative and Dominican native Adriano Espaillat visited the island nation in early July to meet with officials and tourism executives to discuss the safety of American visitors.
Espaillat made six recommendations as a result, including a call to increase standards for monitoring the quality of food and alcohol.
The FBI has conducted toxicology tests on three of the victims but despite reports they would be released, they are not ready yet, or have not yet been made available to the public. Similarities between some victims’ autopsy reports and symptoms prior to death have raised questions about what’s actually happening in the DR.
Three of the victims reportedly had an alcoholic drink immediately prior to their deaths, prompting the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana (where two of those victims died) to remove the liquor dispensers from their minibars.
More suspicious incidents, like the woman violently beaten at a resort and a group of high schoolers falling violently ill, have gone unexplained.
The Dominican Republic is rated a two out of four on the U.S. State Department’s travel warning scale, last updated on April 15th.
“Exercise increased caution due to crime. Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” reads the advisory.
TSR STAFF: Christina C! @cdelafresh