An American died last week while vacationing in the Dominican Republic, bringing the total number of U.S. citizens who died while traveling on the island to at least eight this year and 11 in the past year. Vittorio Caruso, 56, died on June 17 while vacationing on the island, CBS New York reported.
The State Department confirmed to CBS New York that Caruso, a recently retired owner of a pizza shop from Glen Cove, New York, died on vacation there this month, but his cause of death is unknown at this time. Caruso's family was too distraught to speak on camera to CBS New York but said the Dominican Republic has given them conflicting information about where and when he died.
According to Fox News, Caruso was scheduled to return June 27. He was vacationing at the Boca Chico Resort in Santo Domingo. Caruso's sister-in-law told Fox News, "he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something."
Caruso's family told the New York Post that he was "very healthy" and that "he went to the doctor before he left, and he had no problems."
CBS News has reported on said there is no proof at this point the deaths are linked. Several of the deaths were reported to be a heart attack, which health officials say is the most common cause of death for Americans on vacation.about the multiple American tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic this year and last year. Some of the deaths reportedly occurred after the visitors complained of feeling ill after eating a meal or drinking out of the hotel minibar. The U.S. embassy in Santo Domingo
CBS News spoke on June 18 with César Duvernay, a spokesperson for the Dominican Republic's foreign ministry, who said the cases are isolated out of more than 6 million tourists, and that this doesn't mean the country is unsafe. He noted that the government has a special body focused on tourism safety, with protocols in place that have not changed.
On Friday, the island's tourism minister said the tourist deaths were a medically and statistically normal phenomenon. "We want the truth to prevail," Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García said. "There is nothing to hide here."
The FBI has a team in the Dominican Republic investigating the American deaths.