Dominican Republic

Caribbean islands have long been vacation destinations for Americans wanting to get out of town for a fairly inexpensive trip out of the country. But recent incidents in the Dominican Republic (D.R.) that left three Americans dead and one woman disfigured after a horrific beating have some in the U.S. rethinking their vacation plans.

Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, of Maryland were found dead in their hotel room on May 30 after they missed their scheduled checkout from the Grand Bahia Principe hotel, U.S. authorities have confirmed. Dominican Republic police say they found blood pressure medication in the couple’s room and reported the couple died of “natural causes.”

Just days before, a Pennsylvania woman, Miranda Schaup-Werner, who was celebrating her wedding anniversary with her husband with a trip to the D.R., and staying in the same chain of hotels as Holmes and Day, collapsed and died after consuming a drink from the hotel minibar.

These two tragic incidents resulting in three deaths so close together were compounded in media coverage when another woman, Tammy Lawrence-Daley of Delaware, posted on Facebook about her terrifying experience in the D.R. at the Majestic Elegance all-inclusive resort. Little did she know that one of the included experiences would be a vicious beating from a man who dragged her into a maintenance room in the basement, leaving her for dead. Lawrence-Daley suffered alone for eight hours, barely clinging to life before she was found.

So far, the U.S. State Department has not raised the travel advisory level for the Dominican Republic.

While the U.S. Travel Advisory system still has the Dominican Republic rated as level 2 out of 4 on its safety scale, Americans are already looking skeptically at the island country as a possible vacation destination. Raising the level to a 3 would advise vacationers to “reconsider travel” to the country.

“The people that went and had a great time GOOD For you but these people lost their life’s as have others and have been robbed there’s a reason it’s so cheap to go there I pray everyone gets to finally tell their stories about the DR,” one woman commented on Twitter.

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

As Lawrence-Daley wrote in her now viral Facebook post, “We’re in these areas where it looks like paradise, but it’s really an illusion. You can’t let your guard down. You have to be aware.” She’s now advocating for resorts to at least install security cameras.

In the meantime, as with Mexico and other countries that play host to thousands of U.S. families every year, Americans heading to these destinations must exercise more awareness and caution or choose safer locales.

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