Hard Rock Hotel Chief Blames Dominican Republic Deaths on ‘Different Water’

July 1, 2019 Updated: July 1, 2019

The head of the Hard Rock resort chain is claiming that “different water” might have accounted for the mysterious deaths of American tourists in the Dominican Republic in the past year.

“The reality is that when people travel abroad, people get sick simply many times by just drinking water that’s different here than what we are used to in the United States,” the hotel owner, Jim Allen, told CNBC on June 28.

However, some of the victims’ families said they drank alcohol before falling ill and dying.

When asked if alcohol is the culprit, Allen responded, “I think its frankly its part of today’s media cycle … There have been seven deaths over the last year and a half and certainly, they will be investigated. We have to wait for the Dominican to come back with specifics on all of those unfortunate passings.”

Allen made the comments just a few days after a Denver man died on the island. Khalid Adkins, 46, was on vacation with his daughter and was slated to fly back to the United States last week, but he suffered a bout of a serious illness before taking off on a plane and was taken to a nearby hospital.

Allen noted that tourism is down in the Dominican Republic.

“The market bookings are down in excess of 20 percent and certainly that’s understandable. I think this is the classic case of how important it is to make sure accurate information is reported to the general public. But also it’s one of the challenges of being in a country like the Dominican. Their ministry of tourism has come out, made some public statements last week. When you really study the numbers, and it’s important to understand what numbers are factual and which ones are being exaggerated,” he said.

Teen Tourist Wakes Up

An Argentinian teen tourist woke up from a coma after falling ill in the Dominican Republic, according to news reports.

Candela Saccone, 15, was slated to leave the country on June 19 when she became sick from what officials said was a life-threatening diabetic condition while staying at a Punta Cana resort, reported Cronica, an Argentinian news outlet.

She was also taken off a ventilator.

“When they told us that she said a few words and got annoyed when they spoke to her, I said, ‘That’s my granddaughter!’” grandmother Monica Zanollo told the outlet.

According to the New York Post, she began suffering from dizziness, vomiting, and dehydration when she fell ill. She was taken to a local hospital before she was sent to another one in Santo Domingo, the capital.

The Dominican Minister of Health met with Candela’s family on June 23 before telling CNN that Candela was “under control in a high-quality hospital center.”

Cronica reported that she showed signs of improvement several days later.

“This breakthrough means that the doctors are doing things well and the progress is very important for us,” Zanollo said. “The truth is that the hospital staff has taken excellent care of the family, both at a medical level and at a human level.”

Her family said that they hope to get her back home to Argentina when she gets better.

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