A Maryland couple has mysteriously died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. Cynthia Ann Day, 49, and Nathaniel Edward Holmes, 63, were discovered unresponsive at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana by a hotel employee who entered their room when they failed to check out. The couple, who were engaged to be married, arrived on May 25 and were set to leave on the 30th.
By all accounts, Day and Holmes were having fun and enjoying themselves. Holmes was sharing their adventures on Facebook and making lighthearted comments such as “Boat ride of a lifetime!” and “Can somebody please loan me $250,000 bcuz I don’t want to come home!”
“It’s a bit unusual,” Ramon Brito, spokesman for the tourism branch of the National Police, told the Washington Post. Brito did not provide any other details of the investigation. The State Department will be assisting in returning the couple’s remains back to the United States, working with the families, and communicating with local authorities about the investigation.
Here’s what you need to know about Cynthia Day and Nathaniel Holmes.
1. Holmes & Day Died of Respiratory Failure & Pulmonary Edema
Autopsies for Holmes and Day were conducted in the Dominican Republic by the National Institute of Forensic Sciences. On June 2, the findings were released, revealing that both died due to respiratory failure and pulmonary edema. Edema is a condition where fluid fills the lungs. According to the Mayo Clinic, pulmonary edema can occur from pneumonia, exposure to toxins, viral infections, and certain medications.
The Attorney General, the National Police and the medical examiner will work jointly to investigate the deaths. A press release issued by the Procuraduria General De La Republica said its office will be heading up the investigation “to determine the real circumstances in which the painful and regrettable event took place.”
2. The Couple Was Discovered After a Relative Called the Hotel
Day’s cousin, who’d also been staying at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana and left a day early, contacted the resort to say he’d not been able to reach Day or her fiance and was concerned. A hotel employee went to look in on the couple, who had not checked out of their room. Holmes was discovered on the floor and Day was found under the covers in the bed. Investigators said there were no signs of struggle, robbery or violence.
The Grand Bahia Principe La Romana is an all-inclusive resort located in La Romana, the seventh largest city in the Dominican Republic. La Romana is 60 miles southeast of Punta Cana and is the capital of the southeastern province by the same name. The area is home to multiple resorts and is a popular tourist destination. Overlooking the Atlantic, the resort has 400 rooms, a lake-style pool, a spa, gym, and various water sports activities.
“We are deeply saddened by the incident at one of our hotels in La Romana, Dominican Republic, and want to express our deepest condolences to their family and friends,” Bahia Principe Hotels said in a statement reported by the New York Post.
3. Holmes Complained of Feeling Ill but Refused Treatment
According to the local newspaper Diario Libre, Holmes had contacted the front desk and said he was not feeling well on the day the couple was set to leave. A physician affiliated with the resort was called at 8:30 a.m., however, the hotel stated that Holmes declined treatment and stayed in the room.
The Washington Post reported that three pill bottles recovered in the room. Authorities found Galanpertin and Loxofen and described them as two blood pressure medications. A prescription for the pain medication oxycodone in 5-milligram doses was also located. The medical examiner has ordered toxicology and histopathology tests and is awaiting the results.
4. Holmes & Day Are the Second U.S. Couple to Die in the Dominican Republic in Two Months
The deaths of Day and Holmes come on the heels of the loss of Mount Veron, New York couple Portia Ravenelle, 51, and Orlando Moore,43. Ravenelle and Moore died in an auto accident last March when their car plunged into the Caribbean Sea. The couple had been staying at the Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa on the north coast and had planned a late-night drive back to the airport. Authorities were notified when Ravenelle and Moore failed to return their rental car and catch their March 27 flight back to New York.
The National Police narrowed down the missing pair’s location after spotting their rented Kia on a surveillance camera at one toll booth but not seeing the car pass the highway’s next camera. Police interviewed local fishermen who said they heard a car crash, then fall into the water. They discovered Ravenelle, who had no identification, and transported her to Hospital Docente Universitario Dr. Dario Contreras. She died on April 4 after succumbing to her injuries. Moore’s badly decomposed body washed ashore on March 31. Authorities were able to recover the rental car in mid-April.
Investigators speculate that alcohol, speed, and the country’s dark and unfamiliar roadways may have contributed to Moore and Ravenelle’s accident. Moore had been seen drinking before departing for the airport and police believe the couple was running late for their 2 a.m. flight after taking a wrong turn and then backtracking.
Prior to leaving the hotel, Ravenelle had expressed concern about traveling so late at night and worried that her phone might not have enough charge to operate the GPS app needed for their 100-mile drive back to the airport.
5. Safety Concerns for Tourists Visiting the Dominican Republic Have Increased
There have been growing concerns for tourist safety in the Dominican Republic. In January 2019, Tammy Lawrence-Daley, 51, was nearly beaten to death while staying at the Punta Cana Majestic Elegance Resort. The Wilmington, Delaware resident told CBS News she left her room to get a snack and was suddenly grabbed, strangled and beaten by a man wearing a hotel uniform.
When Lawrence-Daley was discovered in the hotel’s crawlspace eight hours later, she was taken to a hospital and treated for five days. “You just have a feeling of safety and a feeling of, you know, paradise, but this can happen,” she explained. “It has happened and it will happen again.”
The State Department has rated the Dominican Republic as a “Level 2” for safety, advising tourists to use “increased caution.” Level 4 is considered the most dangerous and American citizens are warned not to visit Level 4 countries.
An April 15 travel advisory stated that “Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic,” adding that “The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.” According to the State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security, “Crime continues to be the number one safety concern in the Dominican Republic by both Dominicans and the Embassy.”