On May 30th, 2019 an engaged couple from Prince George’s County, MD were found dead inside their hotel room at the Bahia Grand Principe Playa Romana after they missed their check out time from the resort. The autopsies of Cynthia Ann Day, 49, and Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, concluded that the couple died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema. The Dominican Republic National Police have stated that there were no signs of violence in the room where the couple died. The National Police are investigating the deaths and awaiting toxicology results. Investigators found high blood pressure medication and three prescription bottles in the room, one of which contained 5mg pills of Oxycodone.
The hotel in which the couple were staying and later found dead is about 60 miles from Punta Cana and is adjacent to the Bahia Grand Principe Bouganville where another tourist, Miranda Schaup- Werner, died last week of similar circumstances as the Maryland couple. Hotel officials stated that she died of a heart attack and her husband, Daniel Frank Werner, confirmed that she had a history of heart conditions.
These three deaths follow an incident in January in which Tammy Lawrence- Daley, a Delaware native, was attacked by an unidentified male inside her resort near Punta Cana. This incident has resulted in increased public concern regarding the overall safety of traveling to the Dominican Republic. Ms. Lawrence- Daley recalls that he attacker was wearing a hotel uniform.
The four aforementioned cases involving harm to American tourists in the Dominican republic have sparked increased fears and tensions about traveling abroad in resorts that are supposedly well secured and monitored. However, these incidents do not necessarily reflect an overall increase in risk to vacationers. The reality is that what happened to Ms. Lawrence- Daley could happen anywhere, at any hotel or other type of public space across the United States and abroad. The U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic as a level 2: “exercise increased caution” out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. This rating has been consistent since the Travel Advisory system was first instated in 2018.
The most recent travel advisory from April 15th, 2019 states that “violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic… The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.” It is of importance to note that the Overseas Security Advisory Council identifies crime in Santo
Domingo to be of particular concern and that incidents like armed robbery increase during the holiday season of November to January.
However, areas most frequented by tourists such as Punta Cana and Playa Nueva Romano where Lawrence- Daley and the couple, Holmes and Day, vacationed respectively are thought to be safer. The State Department’s travel advisory has stated that “the development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo.”
Although tragic, Ms. Lawrence- Daley’s assault is an essential reminder to always remain vigilant and travel in pairs or groups, especially for women and especially in a foreign environment where one may not be as familiar with the status of local security and authorities. As for what happened to Ms. Schaup- Werner, Mr. Holmes, and Ms. Day, they have been confirmed as natural deaths which occurred as the results of underlying pre-existing conditions. As more information is gathered about these cases through toxicology reports and investigative analyses, Travelyze will provide updates to its safety and security assessments so that travelers may always remain aware of the latest facts about their safety abroad and be able to focus their planning and energy on having the fun-filled adventure of their dreams.
For anyone planning to visit the Dominican Republic, it is highly recommended to visit the Travelyze.com website and sign up for a personalized safety assessment to receive up to date travel safety intelligence based on your actual travel plans.
A Travelyze Assessment provides travelers with:
• Valuable travel data, safety tips and risk mitigation strategies based on a traveler’s actual itinerary.
• Updated Crime Summary for your travel region.
• Personalized Hotel Assessment.
• Shows how to safely use the public transportation system. Learn what areas of the local geography are safe to visit. And where to shop and eat.
• Discover the safest ways to manage cash and credit cards. How to keep passports safe but always accessible. How to keep valuables hidden.
• Access local emergency numbers to get help when needed. Get the rundown on local police and medical services. Find out how to contact the local U.S. Embassy.
Travelyze is an online company that provides international travelers with the tools and resources needed to ensure peace of mind and safety when traveling abroad. Founded by a team of security experts that include a former police commissioner and four high level security experts, Travelyze has over a century of law enforcement and security experience.