An American family wants the name of their father, who died in the Dominican Republic in June 2018, added to the list of victims due to what they say is the suspicious nature of his passing.
Mark Hurlbut Jr. said that his father, Mark Hurlbut, was in Punta Cana last year when he passed away.
Hurlbut and his wife were ill the night before the death. He died overnight.
Gary Rogers, Hurlbut’s brother, said that getting the phone call alerting him to the sudden death was shocking.
“There weren’t a lot of answers,” Rogers told WFAA. “We still don’t have a lot of answers, I don’t think.”
Hurlbut was living in Texas at the time of his death.
Hurlbut Jr. said that his father’s death should be probed along with the other deaths that have been reported to have happened over the past 12 months.
“We want his name added to the list of victims,” Hurlbut Jr. said.
The family suspected something was amiss when Hurlbut died, but with each new report of a sickness or death their suspicion has increased.
“Sometimes you know deep down in your gut something’s not good,” Hurlbut Jr. said.
At least 12 Americans have died in the past year under circumstances that could be considered suspicious. One other passed away in June 2018 and another died in July 2018, while three have died this June so far.
The FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have joined teams probing the deaths but the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic said in a June 6 statement that “authorities have not established a connection between these incidents.”
“The U.S. Embassy is engaged with Dominican authorities and actively monitoring the investigations. Further, at the request of Dominican officials our Legal Attaché (FBI) is providing technical assistance to produce full toxicology reports. We do not yet have results of the toxicology studies,” the embassy added.
“We are also aware of concerns raised by the family members of other U.S. citizens who previously died while in the Dominican Republic. At this time we have no indication of any connection between those tragic losses and the cases currently under investigation.”
A number of sicknesses have also been reported.
A level 2 travel advisory posted on April 15 by the State Department says travelers should take caution when visiting the tourist destination.
“Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime. Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” it stated.
“The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo. The wide availability of weapons, the use, and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”
The page does not have any information about the spate of deaths.
The CIA factbook about the Dominican Republic notes that the risk of major infectious disease is high, with top food or waterborne diseases being bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever. The major vector-borne disease is dengue fever.