Couple who ran travel company, man celebrating birthday identified as tourist who died in Bahamas
(NEXSTAR) — Authorities have identified the three American tourists died in a Sandals hotel in the Bahamas after falling mysteriously ill. Samples taken from the three tourists were sent to a US lab to help determine what happened.
Officers were called to the Sandals Resort on the island of Exuma on Friday morning after one of the tourists, a man, was found unconscious in a villa, Royal Bahamas Police said in a statement.
On the way to the resort, officers learned that two other unresponsive tourists, a woman and a second man, had been found in a separate villa. All three were pronounced dead at the resort, with the woman and the second man both showing “signs of convulsing”, local officials said.
A fourth tourist, a woman, was airlifted to hospital.
The three victims have been identified as Michael and Robbie Phillips of Tennessee and Vincent Paul Chiarella of Florida. Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, was the woman taken to hospital. She was airlifted to Florida but remains in serious condition.
The Tennessee couple are from Maryville, where they ran a travel company that worked with Sandals, Nexstar’s WATER has learned. The agency has been recognized with several awards and accreditations from the Sandals Travel Agency Recognition Awards.
A Facebook post from Thursday, allegedly posted by Robbie Phillipseven a shared admiration for the sights of the Bahamas.
Samples were taken from the tourists, their rooms and the neighboring property to help identify the possible presence of contaminants.
Health Minister Michael Darville said on Saturday that some hotel guests went to a clinic on Thursday with nausea and vomiting, were treated and left. He said initial inquiries indicated it was an isolated incident.
Austin, Chiarella’s son, spoke with ABC News last week and said her parents were staying at the resort for their anniversary. Donnis told her son she fell ill on Thursday but felt “just fine” after leaving the clinic, ABC News reports.
Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper released a statement on Friday saying police were investigating and foul play “is not suspected”.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Michael Darville said Bahamas Eyewitness News the team investigating these deaths “have a theory” about what happened but are still working to determine the exact cause. Authorities continue to believe these are isolated cases.
The US State Department is monitoring the investigation and is “standby to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” a spokesperson said. The hill.
In a statement to Eyewitness News Bahamas, a Sandals representative said, “Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests. It is with profound sadness that we confirm the deaths of three of our guests at Emerald Bay Resort on May 6, 2022. A health emergency was initially reported and in accordance with protocols we immediately alerted emergency medical professionals and relevant local authorities to provide support and investigate the situation.
The company said it was cooperating with the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.