CANCUN – All-inclusive resorts along Mexico’s Caribbean coast are popular with Americans, and high tourist season there was just getting started in mid-November, but the death of an American following her vacation near Cancun at the start of 2017 had many worried about tainted alcohol.
It started as a vacation in paradise for a family from Wisconsin, but only hours after checking into their resort along a beautiful Mexican coastline, 20-year-old Abbey Conner and 22-year-old Austin Conner, were both found face-down and unconscious in a pool.
Bill Conner, Abbey and Austin’s father, wasn’t vacationing with them, but he suspected foul play.
“For both of my kids to both black out at the same time and be found face-down in a waist-deep pool during the middle of the day, there’s something wrong,” he said.
The siblings had just taken celebratory shots, but the celebration didn’t last. Austin survived; Abbey would later die. According to reports, her death certificate reads “accidental drowning,” but their family suspects the alcohol was tainted.
The family’s suspicion sparked concerns from other tourists and that summer, the U.S. Department of State put out a warning about unregulated alcohol in Mexico.
“I look at that as something that can happen anywhere and whether it’s in Mexico or any of the Caribbean resorts, you have to be cautious and careful,” Ian Acton said while vacationing in Playa del Carmen.
12 News boarded a flight in Phoenix, traveling near Cancun to the same resort town where Abbey Connor’s family stayed.
You don’t have to be there long to see why it’s a top tourist destination. It’s a place to party, relax and enjoy the exotic, where most don’t expect their vacation to end in tragedy.
“I saw it on the news and I wasn’t really worried about it. I figured you’re going to be in a resort, you’re in a safe space, everybody wants to come down and hang out, it’s just good,” Angela Esposito of Florida said while enjoying dinner in Cancun.
Following the death, Mexican federal agents confiscated 10,000 gallons of tainted alcohol — poorly distilled and processed or diluted with methanol — which can cause dizziness, seizures, blindness and even death.
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