In light of recent deaths of Americans at resorts in the Dominican Republic, a Charles County, Maryland, woman whose husband died at a hotel in that country in 2018 is raising new concerns.
David Harrison, his wife Dawn McCoy and their 12-year-old son went to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana last July to celebrate the couple’s wedding anniversary.
At some point, Harrison began feeling sick. He eventually went to bed, and woke up covered in sweat.
“He couldn’t sit up, and he was making noises that … you couldn’t make out. He was struggling quite a bit to get out of bed and to talk,” said McCoy. “I tried to communicate with him and all he could do was mumble.”
She said after she made three phone calls, it took more than 20 minutes for the hotel’s doctor to arrive.
Her husband didn’t survive.
McCoy said Harrison was generally in good health, although he took medicine for high blood pressure. He got a physical exam shortly before the trip, and when the results came back, his doctor said he was good to go.
Harrison’s death certificate from the Dominican government states his cause of death as pulmonary edema and a heart attack.
McCoy spent almost $20,000 — including a $3,000 bill from the hotel doctor — to get her husband’s body back to the United States, where she had him cremated.
“We went down there as a happy family, and we came home a broken family. I came home a widow and my 12-year-old son came home fatherless.”
At the time, she accepted the death and tried to move on — but now, she feels differently.
“I started seeing all these other people that were dying of the same exact causes, which made me start to second guess. I no longer feel like my husband died of natural causes,” McCoy said.
She also wishes a second autopsy had been done on American soil, but that’s now impossible.
McCoy’s message for other families going through what she did: “Do what needs to be done in order to satisfy your mind that it was or was not natural causes that killed your loved one.”
McCoy booked a return trip to the same Dominican Republic hotel next month as a way to remember her husband. But after hearing about other recent deaths, she canceled and will lose almost $4,000.
“I no longer feel safe there,” she said.