JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At least nine American citizens have died in the Dominican Republic in the past year, according to information from the U.S. State Department, and some people, including a couple from Jacksonville, are canceling their trips.
Courtney Hall and her fiancé, Patrick Rabitaille, had their honeymoon booked to Punta Cana. But after learning of the deaths that occurred in the Caribbean paradise, the future newlyweds changed their minds.
"I know it could happen anywhere, but this is not something that I'm willing to risk," Hall said. "I want to be able to go and enjoy my honeymoon, not be worried that I'm going to take a sip of something that could kill me or my fiancé."
The FBI is assisting Dominican Republic authorities by looking at toxicology samples form minibars in resorts where U.S. tourists have died.
"I hope that they can figure it out," Hall said. "I think it's beautiful and it's a shame that this is happening to so many people."
Hall and her fiancé now plan to spend their honeymoon in Jamaica, but they hope it will be safe enough to visit the Dominican Republic soon.
Authorities have ruled some of the deaths as due to natural causes, but other families are awaiting toxicology reports. Some family members of those who died said their loved ones became ill after drinking from a minibar.
Officials in the Dominican Republic have called the deaths isolated events as they work to reassure travelers their country is safe.