Things That Matter

FBI Agrees With Dominican Authorities That Deaths Of American Tourists Were All Of Natural Causes

The Dominican Republic is known to attract vacationers from all over the world. The Caribbean nation has beautiful beaches, stunning resorts, and the most chill ambiance. All of that sort of came to a halt during the summer when people began to steer clear of visiting after several tourists died while vacationing there. While the deaths occurred within several months and were all mostly unrelated to each other, the similarities were undeniable. It appeared that the tourists — 11 Americans that died in the Dominican Republic — passed away all of sudden or soon after consuming the beverages at their resorts. At least those were the claims. Now, after a thorough investigation, we’re getting the facts to these unfortunate events. 

The FBI investigated what led to the deaths of three people (out of 11 that died under suspicious circumstances) and report that they died of natural causes as local officials had concluded before.

Credit: @cnn / Twitter

BuzzFeed reports that “17 people died while traveling to the Caribbean nation in 2017. In 2018, there were 13 deaths reported in the country. Between January to June of this year, ten people have died so far.” 

However, the deaths that the FBI investigated were that of three people — a couple from Maryland and a woman from Pennsylvania — who all died within days of each other. The FBI had previously said during the summer that they would look into the possibilities of tainted alcohol, and initial results showed that was not the case. 

“The results of the additional, extensive toxicology testing completed to date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities,” a State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “Our condolences and sympathy go out to the families during this difficult time.”

While the initial results of the FBI investigation have been completed, the FBI still needs to test two more toxins found.

Credit: @travelpulse / Twitter

“In the interest of providing as thorough an investigation as possible in this challenging case, the FBI is testing for two additional toxins and will provide Dominican authorities with results when tests are complete,” FBI officials said, according to BuzzFeed News. 

An attorney that is representing the family of the Maryland couple — Nathaniel E. Holmes and Cynthia A. Day — told ABC News that they are not satisfied with the results. Lawyer Steven E. Bullock said the coincidences are too high to rule their death a result of natural causes. 

“You had a couple that died of the same ailment at the same time, and they want to say that it’s natural causes,” Bullock told ABC News. “I think there’s something for us to continue to look into.”

From the very start of these strange occurrences, it seemed as if a curse descended upon the Dominican Republic because people were either dying in DR or getting sick.

Credit: yosoymolusco / Instagram

In June, 47 people traveling with a group in the Dominican Republic got “violently sick” after staying at a resort. 

“We went [to Hotel Riu Palace Macao] for the week — some longer, some shorter,” Dana Flowers, a member of the Central Oklahoma Parrothead Association who was in charge of the trip told People magazine. “We were enjoying the beach and the pool, and about 3 or 4 days into the trip, we started hearing about people getting sick. They were getting diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches.”

Tourist officials in the Dominican Republic maintained there was nothing out of the ordinary going on. The State Department agrees that despite people dying while on vacation, the occurrence of that is quite common.

Credit: fannymccandless / Instagram

Officials say people die on vacation all the time, and the deaths that happened in the Dominican Republic is no different from any other year. 

“We can see that many international media outlets are just going for it as news, just to get the headline, and they are not really getting into what’s going on…The caricatures have been made, and some in media have done a lot of damage,” Luis José Chávez, president of the Dominican Tourism Press Association, told The Washington Post earlier this summer. “The whole country is trying to get over this and gain back the image of what we really are.”

During the summer, even Cardi B chimed in to support the Dominican Republic and the bad press they were receiving over the tourist deaths.

Credit: yosoymolusco / Instagram

“What is it that’s happening? I don’t know,” Cardi B said in Spanish on her Instagram. “If it’s you know, bad press I don’t know what’s happening, but something is happening. What I do know is that the Dominican Republic is the most beautiful country, and everyone has fun there. Even poor people have fun. So it hurts me a lot when people say ‘that country is bad. That country is this and that. What is happening?”

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic

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Father Of Seven Died Of COVID But Recorded Emotional Video For His Kids Before He Passed

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Father Of Seven Died Of COVID But Recorded Emotional Video For His Kids Before He Passed

Although many states are moving to reopen their economies, we are not yet out of the woods when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this week, there are still more than 60,000 people testing positive for COVID-19 each and every day and almost 12,000 have died in March.

Among those victims is 35-year-old Charles “Charley” Torres, a father to seven children who, despite his condition, was able to record a farewell video to his kids before he passed away.

A Texas man lost his battle to COVID-19 and leaves behind seven kids.

Like so many families who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus, 35-year-old Charles “Charley” Torres leaves behind so many, including seven children (three children and four stepchildren.)

Two weeks before he died, as he struggled to breath, he said his goodbyes to his family in an emotional video. “I love you with all my heart. I love you so much,” Torres said in the powerful video. “Take care of your mother. I love you.”

There were times when his family thought he would beat COVID-19, but 30 days after he was admitted to the hospital on Jan. 15, he died. It was Valentine’s Day.

“He went in and never came out,” said his father, Alex Torres, during an interview KTRK-TV on Friday. “It’s like losing your shadow. No matter where you go, you have him backing you up all the time.”

His greater calling, said his parents, was family. He was a good husband to his wife Ana and father to his children and stepchildren. Three of them are under 6 years old. “He took them everywhere. He did everything with him.”

Torres is another victim in the nation’s battle against the pandemic.

Torres was from Manvel, Texas. He was an Eagle Scout in high school and became a firefighter with the Manvel Volunteer Fire Department. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council #6403 and president of the Austin Diocese Knights on Bikes, a Knights of Columbus motorcycle outreach group.

More recently, he worked as a FEMA Disaster Assistance Specialist.
“He’s always been a servant. He’s done so many things for people,” said his mother, Joanie Torres. “We always say, ‘Charley’s heart is bigger than his body,’ and he’s just that type of person.”

Torres is among the almost 43,000 Texans who have died of COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
His parents said he had underlying health conditions. As people of faith, they see his death as going home. The family has since set up a GoFundMe to help his children.

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These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

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These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Photo via Cassandra Raquel Madison/Facebook

We’ve all had those friends that are so close to us that they feel like they’re family. Well, in the case of these of two Connecticut women who had the same feeling, that ended up being the case.

Best friends Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison learned that they were biological sisters, adopted from the Dominican Republic.

The story is stranger than fiction. Julia and Madison met in 2013, when they both worked at a bar called The Russian Lady in New Haven, Connecticut. The women immediately bonded when they discovered that they both had tattoos of the Dominican Republic’s flag.

Cassandra rehashed the meeting via a Facebook post: “Julia notices the Dominican flag on my arm and makes a comment about how she’s Dominican too BUT she’s adopted from there. I stop her in her tracks and tell her I’m adopted from there too.”

“After that moment, we were so tight,” Julia told Good Morning America. “We started hanging out. We would go out for drinks, for dinner. We started dressing alike.”

Apparently, Cassandra felt the same way. “I thought she was cool,” Cassandra said to GMA. “We just kind of hit it off right away. It was very natural.”

According to them, coworkers were always telling them that they looked like sisters. But when the two of them cross-referenced their birth certificate, their information didn’t add up.

“Papers said we were from two different cities [with] different last names,” Julia explained. “And, our mothers’ names on our paperwork were different.” But the two women believed they were somehow connected–they just didn’t know how.

The mystery finally began to unravel after Cassandra took a 23andMe DNA test.

Through 23andMe’s genetic database, Cassandra tracked down her biological family in the Dominican Republic through a first cousin. She then traveled to the DR where she met her bio-family for the first time–an incredibly emotionally experience. While Cassandra’s bio-father was still alive, her bio-mother had passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.

Years later, Cassandra finally pressed her bio-father on whether or not he had put up another child for adoption. While at first he was hesitant to talk about the painful memory, he finally admitted that he had, indeed, put another child up for adoption years ago.

It was then that Cassandra finally urged Julia to take a DNA test so they could finally put their questions to rest.

The results came back on January 28th, 2021 and finally confirmed what they had long suspected: they were biological sisters.

The entire ordeal has been both thrilling, joyful, and emotionally taxing for the women. At times, it has even been bittersweet, considering the trauma their biological family endured in the past.

“On top of the DR being a very poor country, [our family] couldn’t take care of us,” Julia explained. “I was [born] 17 months later and they weren’t ready.”

All in all, Julia summed up how she feels about the situation in a very direct way: “This is the type of thing you see on TV.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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