California man dies at Dominican Republic resort after drinking scotch from minibar, niece says

Lisa Fernandez of Fox 10 writes that another American tourist has died in the Dominican Republic: The latest casualty is a California man who fell critically ill at an all-inclusive resort about a month before three others died in their rooms, Fox News has learned.

In all, six U.S. tourists have died in recent months while vacationing in the Dominican Republic – a trend that the FBI is now investigating. 

Robert “Bob” Bell Wallace, 67, of Modesto, and who grew up in Redwood City, became sick almost immediately after he had a scotch from the room minibar at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino resort in Punta Cana in April, his niece, Chloe Arnold, told Fox News on Sunday. He was in the Dominican Republic to attend his stepson’s wedding. He is survived by his wife, Beverly Tickenoff Wallace, according to his obituary. The two had three children between each other. 

Punta Cana is a town at the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic and touches the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The spot is known for its beaches and lavish resorts. 

unlucky honeymoon at the Melia Caribe Tropical Hotel in Bavaro, the Dominican Republic

Keeley and Terry Ford couldn’t wait to experience their dream honeymoon in the idyllic Caribbean islands. doug.amy.weddingThe pair forked out $15,000 for their luxurious wedding and honeymoon package in Bavaro in the Dominican Republic. But unfortunately, they ended up with some rather unwanted extras, and have now won a $90,000 payout from the travel company they booked with.

Keeley, 45, said she fell violently ill just hours after saying her vows and was stuck in bed for days. It wasn’t long before new husband Terry became sick too, along with five other members of their wedding party, the Birmingham Mail reported.

That included Keeley’s two children, who were 11 and 15 at the time, and her parents.

She suspects that food poisoning was to blame, claiming that almost raw food was served at the four-star Melia Caribe Tropical Hotel where they were staying.

Travel company Thomas Cook has now paid out $90,000 to the couple over the incident, which occurred in 2009, according to the couple’s law firm Irwin Mitchell.

A spokesperson for Thomas Cook said: “Thomas Cook closely audits all of the hotels to which it operates to ensure that only the very highest health and hygiene standards are in place. We would like to assure customers that incidents of this type are rare, as we work closely with all our hotel partners to ensure that only the very highest hygiene standards are maintained.”

Go to city hall next time: cholera crashes wedding in Dominican

In an impressive display of microorganisms ignoring political borders, rhetoric and social class, a south Asian strain of cholera suspected to have originated with Nepalese United Nations peacekeepers stationed in central Haiti is thought to have contaminated lobsters collected served at a lavish wedding at a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic and sickened many guests.

Dozens of international guests at a family celebration – some reports said it was a wedding – were stricken with vomiting and diarrhea after eating apparently contaminated lobster.

Dominican health officials said that at least 37 of the 500 guests at Casa de Campo, a five-star complex in the Dominican Republic, had tested positive for cholera, including Fernando Hazoury, whose family owns a separate luxury resort, and guests from Spain, Mexico and the U.S.

The health minister, Bautista Rojas, said lobsters for last Saturday’s wedding came from Pedernales, a town bordering Haiti, where about 3,800 have died and 189,000 fallen ill since October.

Venezuelan Health Minister Eugenia Sader said Friday that 111 people went to the hospital to be checked for cholera after attending the wedding.

Authorities were still trying to locate the rest of the 452 Venezuelans who traveled to the Dominican Republic for the January 22 wedding.

Food poisoning during the Dominican honeymoon means Pepto-Bismol and baby wipes

Kansas State University student, and news hunter and gatherer, Gonzalo Erdozain (right, sorta as shown), finally got away on his honeymoon to the Dominican Republic after classes ended last week. Gonzalo returned yesterday and shares his tale below.

I probably contracted a slight case of food poisoning while honeymooning in the Dominican Republic.  So did my wife, and I spent my birthday, literally, in the bathroom and having to use baby wipes on sensitive and inflamed, uh, skin.

We apparently weren’t alone.

The Toronto Star reported yesterday that five passengers aboard a WestJet flight from the Dominican Republic were taken to hospital by ambulance Wednesday night after apparently suffering from food poisoning.

I’d like to know the resort where those other sick people were staying, but if it was anything like ours, it became rapidly apparent that food safety standards in the U.S. are still much, much higher than those of the Dominican Republic.

The resort was luxurious and the service was indeed top of the line, but what they consider to be safe and appropriate is just different than what Americans do.

Gonzo’s do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do advice when visiting a resort in the Dominican:

• don’t eat ceviche that isn’t cold enough or that isn’t entirely covered by lemon and lime juice (which is what is supposed to kill microorganisms;

• don’t eat the fruit they put as decoration on your drinks, its been sitting out all day at the bar in temperatures around 80-90F; and,

• if you want to be extremely careful, even though the hotel tap water is purified, always use bottled water if it will end up in your mouth such as washing your toothbrush, mouth guard (yes, I wear one myself due to grinding), or even rinsing the toothpaste from your mouth – if you use the tap water for any of these, and it happens to be tainted, you will get sick.

Bonus traveler tips: A small bottle of Pepto-Bismol at the hotel costs $18, the equivalent of a year’s supply in the U.S., and yes, baby wipes are available, but there is nothing funny about having to go to the pharmacy and buy baby wipes in a couples-only resort.