More concerns about travel to the Dominican Republic after ninth American tourist dies

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ST. LOUIS – There are more questions about traveling to the Dominican Republic after another American tourist is found dead at a resort there.

Joseph Allen from New Jersey was found dead inside his hotel room last Thursday. He was 55.

Allen is at least the ninth American to die at Dominican Republic resorts over the past year. Seven deaths have happened since April.

St. Louis-Lambert Airport travelers Fred and Beverly McWilson have been to many places, including the Caribbean. They are stunned by the string of deaths.

“I’d want to investigate it before going to that area right now because I haven’t really heard what caused these deaths,” Fred said.

Beverly added: “I probably wouldn’t go there honestly, you know? I mean, there’s other places, you know, that are safer.”

Patrick and Thelma Norman, vacationers heading to New Orleans, said they’ve been monitoring the situation in the Dominican Republic.

“When I hear stuff like that it makes me cry,” Thelma said. “I feel sorry for the family members, you know, other people.”

Her husband said he wouldn’t travel abroad at the moment.

“It’s too dangerous,” he said.

Workers at Brentwood Travel in Creve Coeur say the deaths are causing people to change their travel plans.

“I would say every day the last couple of weeks we’ve had a few either cancellations to Punta Cana or changes to where people are going,” said Susan Hakenjos, vice president and general manager at Brentwood Travel.

Authorities say the deaths don’t appear to be connected but five have happened at just two resorts.

Reports are still pending in some cases but in others, medical problems like heart attacks are being blamed.

Some family members of those who have died still have questions.
“I think we have to take heed and find out what’s happening. It’s very upsetting, it really is, to not know if you’re going to send somebody off and they’re not going to come home. That is horrible so we need to get to the bottom of it,” said Hakenjos.

She says people need to get travel insurance when vacationing to countries like the Dominican Republic.

That insurance can help with things like emergency medical treatment.

At this point, there is not a formal travel advisory concerning the Dominican Republic.

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