The news of a recent death out of the Dominican Republic has tourists on edge as it’s revealed she died just days before another US couple.
Not only that, but the Pennsylvania woman died in the same hotel and of the same causes as the couple.
The woman was found dead in her room just shortly after arriving in the Dominican Republic with her husband.
The couple traveled to the Dominican Republic for vacation and they were staying at the adults-only Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, a city on the southern end of the island.
Her husband told ABCNews that she “died suddenly and inexplicably in her hotel room” after having a drink from her mini-bar.”
Then news broke that a couple from Maryland had died from the same cause at the same hotel.
Five days later, Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 50, an engaged couple from Maryland, were found dead in their room at another hotel on the same property.
Police said in a statement that Holmes and Day died of respiratory failure and fluid accumulation in the lungs, noting that blood pressure medication was found in the room. Police added that a toxicology test will be conducted.
There were no signs of violence, the hotel said in a statement, adding that staffers were “deeply saddened by the incident” and will work with the authorities as they investigate.
Two days before they were found dead, Holmes posted photos of the two posing on a boat, which he captioned: “Boat ride of a lifetime!!!”
Day and Holmes had been staying at the vacation spot since May 25 and were scheduled to fly back home May 30. The bodies showed “no signs of violence,” according to The Dominican Today.
According to police, investigators are looking at the possibility carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame for Holmes’ and Day’s deaths. Police in the Dominican Republic did not confirm whether the couple’s room had a carbon monoxide detector.
It wasn’t until news reports of both deaths that families started piecing together the strange coincidence.
Shortly after Miranda’s family returned home from the DR, they heard about the deaths of Holmes and Day, who’d checked in the same day as Schaup-Werner and her husband.
That’s when they contacted the State Department to investigate the similarities, according to CNN.
“The bizarre issue of the same hotel and these things happening within days of each other and the completely unexpected nature of what happened to Miranda. We just want to understand this,” McDonald told CNN.
“What we thought was a freak event now we don’t know,” he added.
Anyone traveling to the Dominican Republic this summer has likely been met with the cautionary warning; “Don’t drink anything from the minibar.” Eleven tourist deaths on the island in 2019, ranging from natural causes to counterfeit alcohol consumption, have spurred FBI and State Department investigations. Though news of flight and hotel cancellations abounded, I missed my family and refused to let fear stop me from seeing them. Since I lived to tell the tale, here are a few things I learned about my father, about myself, and about the precarious paradise that keeps calling me back.
Billy Joel and Nas have interpreted the “New York state of mind,” and if you have ever visited the Dominican Republic beyond the purpose of tourism, you’ll know that there exists a Dominican state of mind too.
Credit: Dan Gold / Unsplash
Whenever I exit Las Americas or Puerto Plata airports, humidity slaps me in the face, and my Dominican mindset is immediately activated. On this island, electricity does not run 24/7. When the electricity goes, or as we say “se fue la luz,” water doesn’t run from the tap either. All that is left to do is swap your sneakers for flip-flops, and exorcise your need for immediate gratification. It takes practice, and I re-learn this lesson with each visit.
The Dominican Republic is changing fast.
Credit: zonacolonialrd / Instagram
There is new construction everywhere you look. I sit on the balcony chatting with my father and stare across the street trying to remember how it looked before the apartment building was constructed in that space. I can see from an open doorway on the ground level that wooden boxes are being stacked, and hauled out in front of a business. I tune out my father’s voice as I focus on the shape and size of the boxes. My Spanish needs work, and I ask my father, “Papi, what does ataúd mean?” The business slogan translates to “Quality Coffins.” I think about magic realism traditions in Latin American literature, and I am reminded that so often a country like this juxtaposes disparate images and experiences in such a casual manner. I don’t think I would be able to live across the street from a constant reminder of death anywhere else but on this incongruous island.
We drive to the countryside of El Seibo for a few days.
Credit: fedoacurd/ Instagram
My father syncs his playlist and he directs my sister what song to play next. The first song is by Boy George. I watch my father sing along, and I can’t help but think about the Dominican Republic’s homophobic culture steeped in hyper-masculinity. Same-sex marriage is not recognized on the island, and members of the LGBTQ community continue to face discrimination and violence. I talk to my sister about this later that night, and she tells me small changes are coming to the island. The city of Santo Domingo hosts inclusive events like Draguéalo, where you can even sign up for a Vogue class.
Credit: Draguelao / Facebook
My father’s playlist continues and I’m struck by his selections ranging from Taylor Swift to A.I.E. (A Mwana), a song by a 1970s group called Black Blood, featuring lyrics in Swahili.
I watched this Dominican dad jam across continents, decades, cultures, languages, and race. I realize there is so much I don’t know about him, and so often we shortchange our parents’ knowledge and experience, reducing them to stereotypes and gendered tropes.
After a few days in the countryside, my sister and I rent a hotel room in La Zona Colonial. We ready for a night out when she looks at my outfit and asks me, “Um, is that what you’re wearing tonight?” I thought my yellow jumpsuit was poppin’. My sister pulls out a little black dress from her overnight bag and kindly suggests I wear it. The dress is tiny. It’s skimpy. It’s super short. It’s absolutely perfect. I channel my inner Chapiadora, Goddess of Sex Appeal and Free Drinks, and dance all night.
Growing up in the 90s, I styled myself in oversized men’s clothing. It wasn’t until that one magical summer in the Dominican Republic when the heat was too oppressive to wear jeans, so I wore—gasp—a skirt. That was the first time I felt sexy, and learned the power of sex appeal. Though I wielded that power throughout my twenties, it fell away in my thirties. Wearing my sister’s LBD I realize I still have “it,” and in the Dominican Republic, sex appeal is ageless. Be careful when you come here. You may fall in love with a local, or you may just fall in love with yourself again.
The island leaves me with one last lesson.
It comes late one night, sharing a few bottles of wine with my father and sister. No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver—the worst blind person is the one who refuses to see. I could say the current political landscape in the U.S. reflects this willful ignorance, a refusal to see; yet it is the same human experience felt across space and time.
I come away wondering about my own blind spots.
I board my return flight thinking up ways to combat willful ignorance at home, thinking about maintaining that flexible DR state of mind and thinking about buying a little black dress. As tourism in the Dominican Republic picks up again, and unfavorable headlines drop out of the news cycle, this changing island stands in its own plurality welcoming visitors, and offering endless opportunities to teach us something new.
Tacos are our witness. We’re guessing yours too. If we could only eat one kind of food for the rest of our lives, it would probably be tacos. The taco phenomenon has gone global, we’ve got Taco Tuesdays, a variety of tacos in every country, and taco accessories to fill our heart’s desire. But where’s the limit? Unfortunately, there is, in fact, a limit.
A 41-year man died while participating in a taco-eating contest at a baseball in Fresno, Ca.
According to news reports, Dana Hutchings was at the Grizzlies and the Memphis Redbirds game and entered a contest that took place between innings at Chukchansi Park. Hutchings had told his mom and sister that he would be participating in the taco-eating contest hours before it took place.
The Fresno Bee reports that Hutchings went down seven minutes into the contest.
During the contest, the man started choking. He fell and subsequently hit his head on the table.
According to CBS Sports, medical professionals performed CPR on him until the paramedics arrived. They pronounced him dead upon arriving at the Community Regional Medical Center. The autopsy with the cause of death has yet to be released.
“He told us he was going to a taco eating contest, but we didn’t think something like this would happen,” his sister, Mecca Hutchings, told ABC30. His mother added, “He said my son wasn’t responding to anything. How they identified him was that he has a tattoo on his hand that says Dora.”
One person that saw him eating the tacos noticed that Hutchings “was eating so fast compared to the other two (contestants),” Matthew Boylan told The Fresno Bee. He added, “It was like he’d never eaten before. He was just shoving the tacos down his mouth without chewing.”
It’s unclear how many other people were participating in the contest, or what type of taco they were consuming.
“We are devastated to learn that the fan that received medical attention following an event at Tuesday evening’s game has passed away,” the Grizzlies said in a statement provided by Deadspin. “The Fresno Grizzlies extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Mr. Hutchings. The safety and security of our fans is our highest priority. We will work closely with local authorities and provide any helpful information that is requested.”
The contest, which occurred on Tuesday, was scheduled as a kick-off to the main event, Taco Truck Throwdown 9, that is set for Saturday.
The taco party on Saturday includes a live musical performance by A.B. Quintanilla’s Kumbia Kings. There was also another taco eating-contest for that day, but they have since canceled that portion.
Andy McMurray, a fan of the Grizzlies baseball team, said it was right for them to cancel the taco-eating contest after the tragic event that happened earlier this week.
“It’s a sad thing to see happen because people are just trying to have fun. It’s sad to see, I think the Grizzlies acted in the appropriate way considering,” McMurray told ABC30.
Some people are not happy about the cancelation of Saturday’s taco-eating contest.
The contest is being canceled out of respect and also out of concern. It is a freak and rare event that happened earlier this week, but imagine if someone else had an accident during the taco-eating contest? There could be serious repercussions for the event organizers. Instead, they should do some kind of tribute to Hutchings by having his family say some words about him.
While this is no laughing matter, people on social media couldn’t help but see the irony of someone dying by eating such a tasty dish.
This is not the first time someone has died in a food-eating contest. These sorts of competitions shouldn’t be taken lightly. A lot of training goes into this competitive eating sport.
Do you think you’d rest in peace dying in such a way?
As much as we love tacos, we don’t believe this would be a good way to go. What do you think?