Are Fears about American Deaths in the Dominican Republic Overblown?

Are Fears about American Deaths in the Dominican Republic Overblown?

Recent media coverage of deaths in the Dominican Republic have led many travelers to to the conclusion that there is a sudden surge of violence in the country. But that belief doesn’t match the data. Our travel experts at Enchanted Travel have been following the recent coverage and want to give you the most accurate information. Let’s take a look at some of the news articles that provide real facts on the supposed risks in the Dominican Republic. Click the main headings below for full reports.


the Dominican Republic

CNN: The constant media coverage of American deaths in the D.R. does not match the real data

This short and helpful video gets straight to the point: “constant media coverage of the deaths and illnesses in the Dominican Republic has led to the belief that there is a sudden uptick in American deaths in the country, but here’s the thing: the perception does not match the data.”

Here’s the data they are referring to:

So far, 10 Americans have died in the Dominican Republic this year – some from natural causes, some not. In 2018, there were 13 deaths in the Dominican Republic from non-natural causes. In 2017, 17 Americans died in the D.R. from non natural causes. And in 2016? 18 Americans died in the country from non natural causes. So the data shows that there is NOT an uptick in deaths in the Dominican Republic.

However, due to the increased apprehension surrounding Americans traveling to the Dominican Republic, the FBI is sending investigators to the country to investigate the recent American deaths.

“We do not publish statistics regarding natural deaths abroad. However, speaking generally, over 2.7 million US citizens visit the Dominican Republic each year, and we have not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen deaths reported to the department,” according to a US state department official.

This report likens the media coverage to the shark attack hysteria of 2001, when Time Magazine reported it as “the Summer of the Shark”. However, data for this proves otherwise: There were 76 attacks and 5 deaths from sharks in 2001. In the previous year, there were 86 attacks and 12 deaths from sharks.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line: “It is human nature to be pessimistic and fatalistic even when the numbers don’t back up the fear, causing us to feel the world is getting more violent and less safe even when the numbers actually prove otherwise. Furthermore, the real data proves that American deaths in the Dominican Republic are NOT on the rise.


The New York Times: Crisis hits Dominican Republic over deaths of U.S. Tourists

This article from the New York Times reiterates the facts displayed in the video from CNN: “We have not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen deaths reported to the Department,” said an official with the State Department. The US government supports the Dominican government’s statements that the alarm over the deaths may be exaggerated.

Dominican officials state that the number of deaths in recent months is no cause for alarm when you consider the statistics of a country where more than 2 million Americans visit each year.

The Facts

“Of the 10 Americans who have died in the D.R. over the last year, six have reportedly died of heart-related conditions, including one whose family said they do not view the death as suspicious. (Cardiovascular problems account for nearly half of all American tourist deaths abroad, according to the Centers for Disease Control.)”

Even tourists themselves are debunking the frenzy surrounding the recent deaths: “If there’s one thing I know, it’s don’t be guided by fear,” said Marc Purcell, 46, a financial associate from Toronto who was at the Hard Rock with his wife to attend a wedding. This was their fourth trip to the Dominican Republic. “We’re having an amazing time and plan to return,” he continued.

As stated in the video from CNN and in this article from the New York Times, the FBI has sent a team to the country to assist local investigators with toxicological tests. Specifically, they are examinig the case of the Maryland couple, Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Day, who were found dead in their hotel room at the Grand Bahia Principe hotel in La Romana on May 30. Another American, 41, died at the same resort on May 25.

The Most Recent Deaths

“Autopsies showed that the deaths of the Maryland couple were a result of respiratory failure brought on by pulmonary edema. Pulmonary edema refers to fluid in the lungs. But attempts to explain how that happened quickly became confusing. Several bottles of medication were found in their room. The spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Carlos Suero, told Fox News that Mr. Holmes died first, and Ms. Day died afterward, “probably from the shock of seeing the person beside her dead.”

For more details, watch the full CNN video, linked above in the first heading. In addition, you can read the full article from The New York Times in the second heading above.