Incidents involving American tourists raise safety concerns about Dominican Republic

Two recent incidents involving U.S. tourists are putting the Dominican Republic in the headlines – and if social media is any indication, they’re causing other Americans to reconsider plans to visit the Caribbean nation.

On Friday, news broke that Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day were found unresponsive in their room by staff at the Bahía Príncipe hotel at the resort Playa Nueva Romana after they didn’t check out at the expected time.

On Sunday, the Dominican National Institute of Forensic Sciences announced that it had completed autopsies on Holmes and Day, telling CNN that Holmes, 63, and Day, 49, died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs. The Dominican Republic National Police also told CNN that officers found blood-pressure medication in the couple’s room.

“Both died of natural causes at the same time?!? Something is not right — their family deserves answers,” @WritinginMC opined.

“They found another black couple dead in their resort in Dominican Republic.*scratches DR off my to travel list*,” tweeted @IndiaAlmighty.

The tweet was in reference to the deaths of Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle, a New York couple that went missing in late April. It was later determined that they died when their rental car plunged into the Caribbean Sea on their way back to the airport. As of April 14, an official cause of death had not been determined.

The news of the Maryland couple’s deaths came just two days after Tammy Lawrence-Daley of Wilmington, Delaware, said she had been nearly beaten to death in January while taking pictures during her second night at Punta Cana’s Majestic Elegance Resort by an attacker wearing a hotel uniform who dragged her to a basement maintenance room.

In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, she said she wasn’t found for another eight hours, despite her husband and friends’ repeated pleas to the staff for help. When they did manage to locate her, she had injuries serious enough to keep her in the hospital for five days.

The U.S. embassy in the capital city of Santo Domingo, which has been dealing directly with those cases, did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

Dominican Republic a 2 out of 4 on threat scale

The U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic, which shares a border with Haiti, as a level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. Visitors to countries rated as 1 should “exercise normal precautions” while Americans are urged not to travel to countries rated as 4.

The Dominican Republic has held a “2” rating since the Travel Advisory system went into effect in 2018. It is unclear whether the two most recent incidents will result in the State Department raising the threat level to 3 (“Reconsider travel”).