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U.S. officials are “closely monitoring” the puzzling deaths of three separate American tourists who turned up dead in their hotel rooms at a Sandals resort in the Bahamas.
The trio of victims, who haven’t been formally named, were all found deceased in their rooms Friday morning at Sandals Emerald Sands on the island of Exuma. All three — two men and a woman — were identified as American tourists. Two of the victims showed “signs of convulsion,” local police said. Police are now awaiting post-mortem examinations results.
On May 6, George Town police officers were dispatched to the tropical resort around 9 a.m. after a hotel worker found a man’s body in a villa. While responding to the scene, police received an additional report of a second unresponsive man and woman in a second resort villa.
Upon arrival, officers discovered a white male lying on the ground in the first villa. A doctor pronounced the man dead at the scene. An examination of the man’s body revealed he’d suffered no visible physical trauma.
Similarly, a man and woman were also found unresponsive in a second villa at the Sandals resort. Police located a white man slumped against a wall in a bathroom and a white woman found on a bed in the suite, also not showing any indication of physical trauma to their bodies.
"Both individuals showed signs of convulsion," the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement.
The official cause and manner of deaths of the three victims hasn’t yet been released. Preliminary autopsy findings and identification of the bodies are pending via a local coroner.
The pair of individuals found in the second villa, however, had complained about feeling ill the night before they were found dead, authorities said.
“They attended the local medical facility and on completion of receiving treatment, they returned to their lodging,” the Royal Bahamas Police Force statement added.
The U.S. State Department said this week it is closely following local officials’ probe of the three American tourists’ deaths.
"We can confirm the death of three U.S. citizens in The Bahamas on May 6,” a spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com Monday morning. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the families on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time."
Government officials also confirmed a number of hotel guests had reported symptoms of nausea and vomiting late last week prior to the three deaths being reported. The Bahamas Ministry of Health and Wellness, which described the baffling deaths as an “isolated incident,” cautioned, however, there was no evident public health hazard.
"There's no potential risk to any of the residents on Exuma as well as residents at the resort or any other resort on the on Exuma," Bahamas Minister of Health & Wellness Dr. Michael Darville told ABC News.
Family members identified one of the victims as Birmingham, Alabama resident, Vincent Chiarella. The man’s wife, Donnis Chiarella, was also hospitalized in the incident but survived, their son said. She was expected to be airlifted over the weekend to Kendall Regional facility in Florida, the outlet reported. The couple, both in their mid-sixties, were celebrating their anniversary, according to loved ones.
Austin Chiarella, the couple’s son, said the U.S. Embassy contacted him on Friday night regarding his father’s death.
"I am just so heartbroken right now," he told ABC News. "My dad was everything to me."
The grieving son added that his mother told him she "thought she was alright" after being examined at a local medical facility.
"She woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor, and she couldn’t move," Austin Chiarella added. "Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn’t move and she screamed to get someone to come in the door."
A spokesperson for Sandals Resorts said the hotel chain is cooperating with law enforcement.
“Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests,” Sandals Resorts said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com on Monday morning. “A health emergency was initially reported and following our protocols we immediately alerted emergency medical professionals and relevant local authorities. We are actively working to support both the investigation as well as the guests’ families in every way possible during this difficult time. Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time.”
Sandals declined to comment further on the incident this week.
A spokesperson for the Royal Bahamas Police Force wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com. The case remains under investigation.
Anyone with further information pertaining to the active case is urged to contact the Criminal Investigations Department by calling 242-502-9991 or 242-502-9992. Additional tips can be submitted via Crime Stoppers at 242-328-8477.
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