A Georgia man died in the Dominican Republic in March, adding to the list of U.S. tourists who have passed away in the Caribbean vacation destination this year.
In a statement sent Tuesday, the State Department confirmed to USA TODAY that an American citizen died there in March.
ABC News and Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV 2 report Tracy Jerome Jester Jr., 31, of Forsyth, Georgia, died on March 17 while vacationing with his sister, according to his mother, Melody Moore.
Moore told ABC she spoke to her son the night before he died and that he noted he drank a soda that tasted odd. The next day, her daughter called to say he was vomiting and complaining he couldn’t breathe.
After some of the Dominican Republic deaths led to questions about hotel room minibars, the Hard Rock Casino took the precaution of removing liquor dispensers from guest rooms there as well as at its Mexican properties.
Moore said Jester’s death certificate listed “respiratory issues” as his cause of death death, which lines up with autopsy findings reported by New York TV station Fox 5. A medical examiner ruled that he died of respiratory failure as the result of fluid build-up in his lungs.
“Being a mom, I want to go to where he was, where he died at last. Something is wrong, my son is gone. Something is really wrong,” Moore told the Atlanta TV station.
However, she says she has reached out to the FBI to find out “the truth.”
The agency is reportedly handling the toxicology investigations for two of the reported deaths: Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day, who were found dead in their Dominican Republic hotel room in late May.
Jester’s body was returned to the U.S. on April 4. His sister told WBS-TV 2 that he had lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, but it’s unclear whether it played a role in his death.
His death brings the number of confirmed U.S. tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic this year to 10. The last most recentreported case was that of Denver resident Khalid Adkins, who died at a Santo Domingo hospital on June 25 after being told he was too ill to board a plane home.
Questions about safety have dogged the Dominican Republic since late May, when Holmes and Day died in their hotel room and a Delaware woman claimed she was attacked there in January.
In late June, tourism minister Francisco Javier Garcia held a press conference to dispel those concerns, stating, “The Dominican Republic is a safe country.”
He also said the confirmed deaths are not out of the ordinary and that the number is actually lower than in some previous years.
Flight bookings to the Caribbean vacation destination have also begun rebounding since hitting a low point around the third week of June.
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