Cause of death released for 3 Americans found dead at Bahamas resort

Sandals confirms 3 guests dead at Bahamas resort, 4th victim being flown to Kendall Regional

Three Americans who were found dead at a Sandals resort in the Bahamas earlier this month died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a report from News4JAX partner station WPLG.

WPLG cited reports from local news outlets in the Bahamas, including the Nassau Guardian, that said the victims were staying in separate villas next to each other in the same building at the resort on Exuma.

A couple identified as Michael Phillips, 68, and Robbie Phillips, 65, of Tennessee were both found dead May 6, along with Vincent Chiarella, 64, of Florida.

Chiarella’s wife, Donnis Chiarella, 65, was found alive and was flown to Kendall Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The Chiarella’s son, Austin, said they were in the Bahamas for their anniversary when he received a call from the U.S. Embassy with news about his parents.

Samples taken from the three tourists who died were sent to a lab in the U.S. to expedite results and help authorities understand what happened.

The police commissioner of the Bahamas, Paul Rolle, said officials also collected samples from the rooms where the tourists were staying and the surrounding property to determine whether any contaminants were present.

“We really want to know what caused this,” he said earlier this month.

Austin Chiarella aaid he spoke with his mom who said she woke up and her husband was laying on the floor. She couldn’t move, her legs and arms were swollen, and she had to scream to get someone to come in the door.

Austin also said that his mother told him she got sick the day before and went to a clinic and was released, believing she was alright.

Rolle said all four tourists went to a doctor the night before their bodies were discovered and they had complained of feeling ill.

It’s unclear whether Donnis Chiarella has already been released from the hospital.

Despite the autopsy and toxicology tests that were completed, Minister of Health Dr. Michael Darville told reporters last week that the victims’ families have requested that a private pathologist conduct separate autopsies on their loved ones.

The Phillipses apparently owned a company called Royal Travel, and Robbie Phillips, who called herself “The Sand Lady,” specialized in arranging trips to Sandals resorts. She posted photos of the resort's beach on her Facebook page Thursday, saying she was there with her husband.

The couple had three children and six grandchildren, according to the company website.

The samples taken from the victims were sent to a lab in Philadelphia, Rolle said. He noted that the Bahamas’ Department of Environmental Health and police officers are still at the resort.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.