GLEN COVE, N.Y. — A New York man died unexpectedly while visiting the Dominican Republic last week, becoming the latest of at least 11 Americans who have died in the popular tourist destination since June 2018.
According to Fox News, 56-year-old Vittorio Caruso, a recently retired pizzeria owner from Glen Cove, Long Island, died June 17 after he fell sick at Santo Domingo's Boca Chica Resort.
"We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something," Lisa Maria Caruso said of her brother-in-law, who had gone to the island nation alone.
She said family members learned of Caruso's death via phone just minutes after officials had called to say he was sick, News 12 Long Island reported. However, Dominican Republic National Police told CNN that Caruso had begun "receiving medical attention" six days earlier, on June 11.
Caruso "was not a sick person" and had been in good health, Lisa Maria Caruso told Fox News.
A doctor said Caruso's cause of death was respiratory failure, but officials are still awaiting autopsy results, CNN reported.
Caruso's case appears to be similar to the other American deaths reported recently in the island nation. Most of the travelers died from respiratory failure, pulmonary edema and/or a heart attack, officials said. Some had taken drinks from a hotel minibar before falling ill, family members told multiple news outlets.
According to CBS News, the Federal Bureau of Investigation "is assisting Dominican authorities" as they look into the deaths. So far, investigators reportedly have not found any evidence that the incidents are connected.
"There are no mysterious deaths here," Dominican Republic Tourism Minister Javier Garcia told Fox News. "'Mysterious' implies that things happened that science cannot explain."
Although the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory in April urging American tourists to "exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime," officials have not revised the notice to include any health warnings. In fact, the department said last week that it has "not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths" in the popular vacation destination, ABC News reported.
"The overwhelming majority travel without incident," a department spokesperson said of the 2.7 million Americans who go there each year.