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'Reason To Pause,' Attorney For Md. Couple That Died On Vacation In The Dominican Republic Says

PUNTA CANA, DR (WJZ) -- Another family is suffering after a loved one died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

53-year-old Leyla Cox died suddenly last week while visiting a Punta Cana resort.

At least seven other Americans have died there since January, including a couple from Maryland, all while enjoying what they hoped would be a dream vacation.

"The U.S. Embassy called me and told me that my mother passed away on June 10, the day after her birthday," Cox's son Will said.

Cox was celebrating her 53rd birthday, staying at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana when, according to U.S. officials, she died in her hotel room of a heart attack.

"It's been a nightmare. I am overwhelmed. I don't have the answers I've been looking for," Will Cox said.

Neither does the family of 41-year old Miranda Schaup-Werner, who died suddenly in May while visiting the Bahia Principe resort. The initial report said she had fluid in the lungs and respiratory failure.

Five days later, 63-year old Edward Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Day, both from Prince George's County, were found dead in their hotel room at neighboring Grand Bahia Principe resort. The initial report said the couple also died from fluid in the lungs and respiratory failure.

"If you look at two people dying at the same time allegedly of the same cause of death and then we get another report that someone who stayed in the same hotel three days prior to them checking in died of the same cause, that gives us reason to pause," the family's attorney Steven Bullock said.

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U.S. authorities still say they have no evidence linking these deaths or the mysterious deaths of five other Americans who died in the Dominican Republic this year.

At the request of local authorities, the FBI is performing toxicology tests on the victims. The results can take up to 30 days.

"I do not believe it was of natural causes. I truly believe if she was anywhere else in the world besides the Dominican Republic, she'd be alive right now," Will Cox said.

The country's tourism minister has released a statement, reading in part:

"In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation. These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination."

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