Inside the Deaths and Sickness That Have Consumed Tourists in the Dominican Republic

There’s fear surrounding the Dominican Republic these days.

In just the past few months, the beach oasis has been battered by a steady stream of disturbing reports about tourist deaths, sudden illness and violent assaults.

At least 36 Americans have died on the island since January 2018 — and many more have been plagued by “nightmare” illnesses, The Post has found.

That death total — which includes everything from unexplained illnesses to drownings to cosmetic surgery gone bad — is even higher than reports have previously suggested.

Though more than 2.7 million US tourists travel each year to the Caribbean nation, many without incident, the cases have revealed a wide range of dangers facing travelers.

The fatalities and other bizarre incidents — such as the high-profile case of Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s shooting and a Delaware woman’s alleged hours-long assault — have unsettled would-be visitors. Tourism has taken a massive hit, with the number of trips booked for July and August plummeting by more than 74 percent.

Here’s everything we know so far about the Dominican Republic’s trouble in paradise:

Sudden deaths

The public first started noticing that there was something amiss in the Dominican Republic when reports emerged in May of an engaged Maryland couple dying at a resort in the eastern part of the country.

Cynthia Day, 49, and her fiance, Nathaniel Holmes, 63, seemed to be having a dream vacation at the Grand Bahia Principe hotel, at least according to photos they posted on social media of them embracing on a boat and flashing toothy grins.

But the trip turned tragic when the Prince George’s County couple was found dead in their room five days after they checked into the hotel on May 25.

On the same day that Day and Holmes’ bodies were found, a Pennsylvania woman, Miranda Schaup-Werner, died at the Luxury Bahía Principe Bouganville, another property under the same resort chain.

Schaup-Werner, 41, had a drink from the minibar in her hotel room, then fatally collapsed in front of her husband, according to her family.

What’s more, her cause of death was strikingly similar to what was listed for Day and Holmes.

Local officials determined all three had fluid in their lungs and succumbed to pulmonary edema and respiratory failure — with Schaup-Werner, who had pre-existing conditions, also suffering a heart attack.

Their families insist the deaths are suspicious.

“The bizarre issue of the same hotel and these things happening within days of each other and the complete unexpected nature of what happened to Miranda,” Schaup-Werner’s brother-in-law, Jay McDonald, told news station WFMZ. “We just want to understand this.”

But the cases weren’t the end of the trouble. As word of the three deaths spread, others came forward with similar stories of loved ones falling ill and dying at various all-inclusive resorts on the Caribbean island.

At least 16 Americans have died since January 2018, in what appears to be a disturbing trend involving tourists suddenly passing away at luxe hotels, according to the families of the deceased and information from the State Department.

The spate of deaths has gone unexplained, but investigators are eyeing the possibility that bootleg liquor has poisoned guests. Officials want to know who supplied the liquor that tourists drank in the hours leading up to their deaths.

The FBI is assisting with the investigation and also testing alcohol samples from at least one minibar at the Bahia Principe resort to determine whether there were dangerous chemicals in the booze, CNN reported.

Several tourists, including Schaup-Werner, died after they cracked open their minibars or drank at various resort bars.

Donette Edge Cannon, 38, traveled to the embattled island to celebrate her brother-in-law’s birthday in May 2018 at the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana, enjoying the all-inclusive resort’s poolside bar.

For the final night, the Queens mom went out to dinner with her family before dancing the evening away at one of the resort’s clubs and heading back to her room.

“We were singing and all dancing up to the room that night,” her sister, Candace Edge Johnson, told The Post. “When we all said good night, we were dancing.”

But in the middle of the night, Cannon awoke with stomach pain and started vomiting. Within hours, she had died from kidney failure at a local hospital, her family said.

Though she was on dialysis, Cannon’s family said they still don’t know her health condition escalated and the autopsy “never addressed what initially got her sick in the first place.”

A rep for the Sunscape Bávaro Beach Punta Cana said the hotel had since changed management.

“We were very sorry to learn of the death of Donette Edge Cannon,” the rep said. “It is our understanding that she died over a year ago in May 2018, was on dialysis and passed away as a result of health complications. We know her death is difficult for her family and friends and our hearts go out to them.”

A rep for Bahia Principe Hotel & Resorts provided a statement to The Post declining to comment further on the cases.

“We reiterate our firm commitment to collaborating completely with the authorities and hope for a prompt resolution of their inquiries and actions and will not be making any further statements that may interfere with them,” the statement said.

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SOURCE: New York Post, Jackie Salo