N.Y. woman sick­ened at Do­mini­can re­sort be­fore 3 deaths

Lodi News-Sentinel - - STATE/NATION - By Cathe­rina Gioino, Thomas Tracy and Larry McShane

NEW YORK — A New York woman says she barely es­caped with her life from a Do­mini­can Repub­lic re­sort af­ter a bleach-filled soda bot­tle turned a ro­man­tic get­away into a hor­ror show.

Awilda Montes, 43, of Queens, told the New York Daily News on Fri­day that she ini­tially be­lieved a simple mis­take was behind the bizarre in­ci­dent that left chem­i­cal burns in her mouth af­ter she started vom­it­ing blood in­side her room at the Lux­ury Bahia Principe Bouganvill­e.

“I thought the maid service, maybe to not carry the bleach bot­tle from room to room, would maybe put it into a smaller bot­tle. Or maybe they were try­ing to take it home to clean their house,” she said.

But when news broke of a trio of Amer­i­can deaths on the is­land, she be­gan to sus­pect some­thing more ma­li­cious.

“I hon­estly never imag­ined that some­body was try­ing to pur­posely do that un­til now, un­til watch­ing the three deaths,” she told The News. “Now I’m think­ing had (the ho­tel) in­ves­ti­gated this mys­tery, they would be alive.”

She was stay­ing at the same re­sort where one of the three U.S. tourists who died in the Do­mini­can last month col­lapsed af­ter get­ting a drink at the mini­bar in her room, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for the dead woman’s fam­ily. And Montes drank her tainted soda at the sis­ter re­sort to the nearby ho­tel where a Mary­land cou­ple was found dead in­side their room.

Ac­cord­ing to Montes, ho­tel man­age­ment of­fered her a free cou­ples massage and din­ner on the house in re­turn for her sig­na­ture on a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment — a deal that she re­jected af­ter the in­ci­dent that left her in agony.

“I was mis­er­able,” she said. “I was vom­it­ing. I had stom­ach pains. The chem­i­cal burns were all over. I still don’t have sen­sa­tion in my tongue.”

Montes didn’t make the con­nec­tion be­tween the re­cent fa­tal­i­ties and her own health scare un­til a friend called from Los An­ge­les and mentioned the three deaths last month.

She pro­duced three pages of med­i­cal records from a lo­cal clinic that treated her af­ter she took a swallow of what she thought was a 7Up taken from the mini­bar in her room.

The re­port de­tailed “a pain in the dor­sal and lat­eral re­gion of the tongue, ac­com­pa­nied with vom­it­ing ... with a fre­quency of two oc­ca­sions fol­low­ing the (in­ges­tion) of a liq­uid ap­prox­i­mately thirty min­utes ago.”

The Do­mini­can death toll for visit­ing Amer­i­cans be­came a re­cent cause for con­cern af­ter the Amer­i­cans tourists passed away last month while va­ca­tion­ing on the Caribbean is­land.

Mi­randa Schaupp-Werner, 41, died in­side her room shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing at the Lux­ury Bahia Principe Bouganvill­e re­sort on May 25. The Al­len­town, Pa., woman trav­eled to the Do­mini­can Repub­lic with her hus­band to cel­e­brate their ninth an­niver­sary, and re­port­edly col­lapsed af­ter taking a drink from the mini­bar.

Five days later, a Mary­land cou­ple was found dead in­side their room at the nearby Grand Bahia Principe, the Bouganvill­e’s sis­ter re­sort. Ed­ward Holmes, 63, and Cyn­thia Day, 49, passed away shortly be­fore they were due to check out of the ho­tel.

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