AVENEL, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey man is now at least the eighth American to die while visiting the Dominican Republic in the last year.
Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, was found dead last Thursday inside his room at Terra Linda Resort in Sosua.
Allen was there with friends who said he complained about being hot at the pool before going to shower and lie down, CBS News reports. His body was discovered the next day.
His cause of death has yet to be released.
Family members said he was in good health and traveled to the DR often. Longtime neighbors say Allen lived with his son.
Allen's family is trying to get his body home.
At least seven other Americans have died in the Dominican Republic in the last 12 months. Local autopsies found most died of respiratory problems or a heart attack.
"The real way to get to the answer is to compare and contrast all the people who died to see if there's a common factor," said Dr. Reynold Panettieri, a toxicologist and lung specialist.
Panettieri, the vice chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science at Rutgers University, says what's suspicious about some of these deaths is that there are multiple otherwise healthy people with no pre-existing conditions dying all of a sudden.
"Pulmonary edema is secondary to something. It's simply a constellation of fluid collecting in lung. There's cause for that. It doesn't just happen ... out of the blue," he said. "That speaks to a point of wonder if there's a toxicant exposure."
He says simple toxicology tests may not provide the answers here, such as if poisons or pesticides were involved.
"It doesn't give you some of the other causes -- arsenic ... things that would be typically, could cause flooding of the lungs or pulmonary edema," Panettieri said.
Panettieri says a secondary screen for toxicants would need to be ordered using sophisticated, sensitive machines, which can take weeks and cost a lot of money.
Toxicology reports from the FBI have not yet been released for the three deaths that occurred in May.
Staten Island mother Leyla Cox was on a solo birthday trip when she passed away last week. Her son told CBS2 the U.S. Embassy in the DR called and told him she died of a heart attack, but he said he did "not believe it was of natural causes."
The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo says at this point, there is no proof the deaths are linked. Health officials say heart attack are the most common cause of death for Americans on vacation.
List Of Recent American Deaths In The Dominican Republic
- June 17, 2019: Vittorio Caruso, 56, from Glen Cove, N.Y.
Died after "drinking something," cause of death not officially determined.
- June 13, 2019: Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, N.J.
Died at Terra Linda resort in Sosua, Dominican Republic. Cause of death yet to be officially determined.
- June 10, 2019: Leyla Cox, 53, of Staten Island, N.Y.
Died at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana. Cause of death in DR ruled a heart attack.
- May 30, 2019: Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, of Maryland.
Died at the Grand Bahia Principe in La Romana. DR officials ruled cause of death as respiratory failure, along with Cynthia Day.
- May 30, 2019: Cynthia Day, 49, of Maryland.
Died at the Grand Bahia Principe in La Romana. DR officials ruled cause of death as respiratory failure, along with Nathaniel Holmes.
- May 25, 2019: Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Allentown, Pa.
Died at the Bahia Principe resort in La Romana. Cause of death ruled heart attack and respiratory failure.
- March 27, 2019: Orlando Moore, 40, of Westchester County, N.Y.
Body recovered from the sea near San Souci on March 31, linked to a traffic crash on March 27 with Ravenelle.
- March 27, 2019: Portia Ravenelle, 52, of Westchester County, N.Y.
Found alive on highway in DR, later died of injuries at a hospital, linked to a traffic crash on March 27 with Moore.
- April 12, 2019: Robert Wallace, 67, of California.
Died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana of a heart attack after being served a scotch at the bar.
- April 2019: John Corcoran of Turlock, California
Death in DR reported by CNN through his sister, "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran.
- July 2018: David Harrison of Maryland.
Died at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana of a heart attack.
- June 2018: Yvette Monique Sport of Pennsylvania.
According to CNN reports, she died after drinking from her hotel room's mini-bar at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana.
- May 2018: Donette Edge Cannon of Queens, N.Y.
Died at hospital of kidney failure after stay in Punta Cana.
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