What to Know
- Officials are investigating the death of another U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic.
- Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, died in the Dominican Republic on June 13, according to his family members.
- The victim is the ninth American to die in the Dominican Republic within the past year and a half, according to NBC News.
Officials are investigating the death of another U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic.
Joseph Allen, 55, of Avenel, New Jersey, was found dead in a Dominican Republic hotel room on June 13, according to his family members. Officials have not yet revealed a cause of death.
"My brother was a hard worker," Allen's brother, Jason Allen, said. "He taught me a lot about sacrifice. My brother taught me how to drive. He taught me what a blind spot was. He taught me so many things about being a man. He was selfless."
Allen's family said he arrived at the Terra Linda in Sosúa for a friend's birthday on June 9. On June 12, Allen complained about being hot at the pool and was going to take a shower and lie down for the night, according to his friends.
The next morning, the friends called for a wellness check when they didn't hear from him.
"The maid opened the door, screamed, slammed the door," Jason Allen said. "My brother is on the floor dead between his room and the bathroom."
Allen's body was cold, leading his friends to believe he had died the night before, according to the family.
The family said Allen was healthy and had just passed a physical before heading to the Dominican Republic, which he visited often.
"That's his vacation spot," a family spokesperson said.
Allen's 23-year-old son had went down to the Dominican Republic to spend time with him on Father's Day only to discover he had passed.
"To God we belong, to God we return," Jason Allen said. "Your time to go is ordained before you get here. I'm fine with the passing, but we do want some answers. We want some closure to figure out what's going on and why this is happening. And we don't want anyone to feel how we're feeling right now."
The family is currently trying to get Allen's body back to the United States in order to get an official cause of death.
"I don't know who to blame," Jason Allen said. "I'd rather not guess because you will drive yourself crazy with that but I do think something is off and I think it needs to be investigated no matter how much money or how much time it is."
On Tuesday, Dominican authorities released the preliminary findings of Allen's autopsy. According to the report, the medical examiner found that cardiac arrest may have led to his death. The report claims Allen was approximately 5-foot-9 and weighed between 410 and 420 pounds.
The report also states Allen had prior conditions, including long term hypertension, hardening of the arteries and other heart issues. The medical examiner also did not find any evidence of external violence.
Dominican officials have not yet completed a final toxicology report.
Allen is the ninth American to die in the Dominican Republic within the past year and a half, according to NBC News. Local government authorities said they’re working with U.S. authorities to investigate the recent deaths of a Maryland couple and a Pennsylvania woman in Bahia Principe resorts in May, while saying the cases are “unrelated and isolated.”
News of the deaths prompted other American families to share similar stories of their loved ones mysteriously dying while staying at resorts in the Dominican Republic. At least half a dozen people reportedly fell ill while staying at resorts and at least two of them died after drinking from minibars, family members said.
The deaths, along with the shooting of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz and the beating of a Delaware woman in a Punta Cana resort back in January, have raised safety concerns among those planning to visit the island.
Despite this, news of the deaths and violence have not led to a slew of canceled trips, according to some industry experts. They said however that a snapshot of the overall impact on tourism in the Dominican Republic won't be clear until the government issues its next report in the fall.