Colorado Couple Sues Same Dominican Republic Hotel Chain That Saw 3 American Deaths

June 7, 2019 Updated: June 7, 2019

Colorado couple Kaylynn Knull and Tom Schwander have sued The Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, a hotel chain in the Dominican Republic, after they got sick during their stay last year. It is the same hotel chain that has seen at least three recent American deaths occur in less than a week’s time.

Knull and Schwander alleged that their illness is related to the pesticides used at the hotel during their stay on the property.

“As soon as we came back to the room, we noticed it smelled like somebody had dumped paint everywhere,” Knull told The Denver Channel. “We were drooling excessively. My eyes would not stop watering.”

Knull said that even after they changed rooms the symptoms remained, “That night, we both woke up soaked in sweat at like four in the morning and kind of terrified, and we booked a flight home before the sun came up.”

After they returned to Colorado, a doctor diagnosed their symptoms as “likely organophosphate poisoning”—a strong support of Knull’s judgment that their health scare was related to the pesticides used by the resort.

The couple has sued for $1 million in their lawsuit after the resort refused to reveal what chemicals they use for gardening or offer the couple a refund. However, the case has stalled in Dominican courts.

Tourist Deaths

On May 30, Cynthia Day, 49, and Nathaniel Holmes, 63, a couple from Maryland, were found dead at one of the hotel chain’s resorts after they missed their scheduled check-out time. They were found in their room at the Bahia Principe hotel just five days after another American, Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, from Pennsylvania was found dead in the same resort.

Both Day and Holmes had internal bleeding, including in their pancreases and fluid in their lungs. Day also had fluid in her brain, based on a statement from Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez Sanchez’s office.

According to an autopsy report, officials said Day and Holmes died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema caused by excess fluid in their lungs. Police didn’t find signs of violence on their bodies, reported CNN.

The two were engaged, Day’s sister, Sonya Jackson, told NBC Washington.

“It should have never happened,” Dajuan Holmes-Hamilton, Nathaniel Holmes’ daughter, told the news outlet.

The death of the Pennsylvanian woman, Schaup-Werner, also should never have happened.

Schaup-Werner in checked in the hotel on May 25 with her husband, Daniel Werner. They were celebrating their wedding anniversary.

But Schaup-Werner, a psychotherapist from Allentown, later collapsed in their room after she had a drink from the hotel’s mini-bar, a relative told Fox News.

“Daniel and all of us are in a state of disbelief, we are shocked. She was perfectly content, everything seemed fine,” Jay McDonald, Daniel’s brother-in-law, told Fox.

She was declared dead at the scene by local paramedics who had arrived to try and resuscitate her.

Just as with the Maryland couple, Schaup-Werner’s cause of death was determined as respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, which is caused by excess fluid in the lungs, according to Dominican authorities.

“[Daniel] wants his wife’s body home,” McDonald told Fox. “We want [an investigation] to be done domestically.”

The Dominican Republic Tourism Ministry has since announced that it is allowing the hotels 60 days to install security cameras, with the Dominican Attorney General’s Office saying that all these cases seem unrelated, according to a report cited by Fox.