AP

Bahamas calls on US labs to help solve deaths of 3 tourists

May 8, 2022, 11:03 PM | Updated: May 9, 2022, 1:41 pm

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Samples taken from three tourists from Tennessee and Florida who died at a resort in the Bahamas under mysterious circumstances have been sent to a lab in the U.S. to expedite results and help authorities understand what happened, officials said Monday.

The police commissioner of the Bahamas, Paul Rolle, said officials also collected samples from the rooms where the tourists were staying and the surrounding property to determine whether any contaminants were present.

“We really want to know what caused this,” he said.

He identified the victims as a married couple from Tennessee, Michael Phillips, 68, and Robbie Phillips, 65, and a resident of Florida, Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64. Rolle declined to provide their hometowns.

Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, was flown to a hospital in Florida and remained in serious condition, Rolle said.

Their bodies were found Friday morning at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, where the couples had been staying in two separate villas.

The Phillipses apparently owned a company called Royal Travel, and Robbie Phillips, who called herself “The Sand Lady,” specialized in arranging trips to Sandals resorts. She posted photos of the resort’s beach on her Facebook page Thursday, saying she was there with her husband.

The couple had three children and six grandchildren, according to the company website.

The samples taken from the victims were sent to a lab in Philadelphia, with results of the toxicology study expected in about a week, Rolle said. He noted that the Bahamas’ Department of Environmental Health and police officers are still at the resort.

When asked what he thinks might have caused the tourists’ deaths, Rolle said: “I’m not going to speculate.”

He noted that all four tourists went to a doctor the night before their bodies were discovered and they had complained of feeling ill. He said they went at different times and had eaten different things.

Meanwhile, Sandals Resorts said it would not comment further beyond its original statement, which noted that it is supporting the investigation and the families of those affected.

“Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time,” the company said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price also confirmed three American citizens had died and offered “heartfelt condolences to the families and the other loved ones of those who have passed.

“We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigations into the cause of death, and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” he added.

The deaths come seven years after a Delaware family became seriously ill at a resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands. U.S. authorities determined that methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide banned for indoor residential use in 1984, was to blame and had been used at that resort several times.

___

Associated Press reporter Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, contributed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, N...

Associated Press

Biden throws support behind VP Kamala Harris to lead Democrats against Trump, aiming to avoid further party chaos

Biden dropped out of the 2024 race for the White House on Sunday, ending his bid for reelection following a disastrous debate with Trump.

5 hours ago

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

6 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

6 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

6 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

7 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

7 days ago

Bahamas calls on US labs to help solve deaths of 3 tourists