Colorado couple claims they were poisoned at same Dominican Republic resort where three Americans died mysteriously
Kaylynn Knull and her boyfriend Tom Schwander recalled how violently sick they got after staying at the resort last year and how their symptoms got progressively worse and they had to fly back home midway through their vacation
As authorities investigate the mysterious and unexplained deaths of three Americans in a Dominican Republic resort, a Colorado couple who stayed at the same facility last year said they got very sick while staying there and believe that "what happened to us may be related to what happened to them."
29-year-old Kaylynn Knull and her boyfriend 33-year-old Tom Schwander, who stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel La Romana in June last year, had to cut short their vacation after becoming violently sick after being exposed to what they believe may have been insecticides which spread through the air conditioning system.
The couple filed a lawsuit against the owners of the resort and hold them accountable for their sickness.
During an interview with CNN, Knull shared that the recent deaths of 3 Americans -- a Maryland couple and a Pennsylvania woman -- at the same Dominican Republic hotel made her very angry and sad.
Knull shared, "My blood boiled. It made me want to scream. It made me want to cry. There's something going on. What happened to us may be related to what happened to them."
Last month, 63-year-old Edward Nathaniel Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Day were found unresponsive in their hotel room while at the resort. According to authorities in the Dominican Republic, a preliminary autopsy found that the couple had suffered from respiratory failure and pulmonary edema which is caused by excess fluid in the lung. Cynthia had also suffered from cerebral edema.
Five days before, 41-year-old Miranda Schaup Werner had died in her room while her husband was nearby. A preliminary autopsy showed that she suffered from a heart attack, pulmonary edema, and respiratory failure.
The toxicology reports are currently pending while their deaths still remain under investigation by local authorities.
Jay McDonald, a spokesman for the Schaup-Werner family, shared that they are working with authorities in the US in order to gather more information. "Our goal here is answers. We want to understand what happened," he shared.
Meanwhile, Dominican Republic's Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia downplayed the incidents and told reporters, "In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation. ... These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination."
However, Knull and Schwander painted a very dire picture of their stay in the country and said that they had to leave midway through their vacation because they got sick. On the 6th day of their vacation, Knull said she woke up with a bad headache but assumed that she was just dehydrated. The couple recalled how their room had an overwhelming chemical smell and asked the housekeeper to check.
The hotel eventually sent an air cleaner but due to lack of communication they were unable to identify the source of the smell, something which Knull and her boyfriend kept asking. The couple's symptoms got worse and they both had intense stomach cramping and diarrhea. Knull even had blood in her stool and one night they woke up to find Schwander drooling a lot in a sweat-soaked bed.
"I had sopped his chest up (with drool). I was sweating so hard my eyes were tearing. My vision was blurred. ... My head was getting dizzy," Knull shared.
The hotel refused to give the couple any answers and they had to cut their vacation short.
Upon reaching back home to Denver, the couple was checked by their family doctors who suspect that the pair were exposed to organophosphates. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, organophosphates are man-made chemicals typically found in pesticides, such as ant and roach spray. It can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled or eaten and exposure can cause increased saliva, tear production, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, confusion and other symptoms,
Exposure to this can cause respiratory problems or failure, an Emory University professor of exposure science and environmental health, Dana Boyd Barr, told CNN.
Knull was emotional as she reflected on the people who have died at the resort and wants to know what made them sick. "Maybe that will help them," she said. "If talking about what happened to us helps find out what happened to those people -- God bless their families. They deserve answers."