Another American tourist has died in the Dominican Republic — but it’s unclear if his death is related to the spate of American tourists who have died while visiting the island nation.
Joseph Allen, 55, was found dead in his hotel room at Terra Linda in Sosua on June 13, his sister confirms to ABC. The Avenel, New Jersey, man was on the island to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
“He complained about being hot at the pool,” Allen’s sister, Jamie Reed, told ABC. “He said he was going to his room to take a shower. The next morning his friend said he hadn’t heard from Joe before breakfast, so he knocked on his door and there was no response.”
Hotel workers found Allen on the floor. He was already dead.
The State Department confirms that there have been at least 8 deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic since last June, but most of the deaths are concentrated near the Punta Cana area of the island. Allen died at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua, which is approximately 250 miles from Punta Cana.
The FBI and CDC confirm to PEOPLE that they are investigating six of the deaths and multiple illnesses around Punta Cana. It is unclear whether they will include Allen’s death as part of their investigation.
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On May 30, 2019, engaged couple Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana hotel. The Dominican Republic National Police announced that an autopsy found the couple had respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs. Day also reportedly suffered cerebral edema.
Pennsylvania native Yvette Monique Sport, 51, had just arrived at the Bahia Príncipe resort in Punta Cana — which is owned by the same parent company as the one in La Romana — when she died in June 2018. Though her death was initially ruled a heart attack, her cause of death is being investigated again.
David Harrison, 45, was celebrating his wedding anniversary with his wife and 12-year-old son when he died of a heart attack at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana in July of 2018.
On May 25 of this year, Pennsylvania psychotherapist Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, collapsed shortly after mixing a drink from the minibar in the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, where she was celebrating her ninth wedding anniversary. (The hotel is part of the same resort as Grand Bahia Principe La Romana.) According to her autopsy, she died of a heart attack that caused respiratory failure and fluid accumulation in her lungs.
In April 2019, Robert Bell Wallace, 67, died while staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana for his stepson’s wedding. His niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News that he became ill after having a drink from his hotel room’s minibar.
Robin Bernstein, the ambassador of the United States to the Dominican Republic, told Univision these high-profile incidents should not be considered anything more than isolated cases. “We have 2.7 million Americans who come to the country and the statistics is that this is a very … unique event,” Bernstein said in a statement. “They come to visit the beautiful beaches and enjoy the great culture. Unfortunately sometimes those things happen to people.”
Now Allen’s family is hoping that an investigation will help them understand how he died. “The families need answers,” says Jamie Reed. “We deserve answers…My brother was my best friend. I spoke to him every day. This is killing me.”