A 56-year-old man from Long Island has become the latest American tourist to die in the Dominican Republic—and while officials insist the recent spate of deaths in the country is not unusual, relatives of Vittorio Caruso say they are suspicious. Caruso died June 17 after experiencing respiratory distress and a possible heart attack, reports CNN. "We found out he was brought by ambulance to the hospital in respiratory distress after drinking something," sister-in-law Lisa Caruso tells Fox. She says it has been difficult to get straight answers from Dominican officials. Caruso, who recently sold a pizzeria he co-owned with a sibling, is the 11th American to die in the country since last year, according to Fox. FBI agents have traveled to the Dominican Republic to assist investigators.
"He went to the doctor before he left, and he had no problems," brother Frank Caruso tells the New York Post. "I spoke to the doctor. He called me when he found out he died, and he said he did not see anything wrong before he left. He could not believe the news." He adds: "This is not normal. We are very suspicious. We think maybe there was something in his drink or in his food." Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases and critical care doctor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells the AP that officials have been "very opaque" about their findings in recent deaths, some of which occurred soon after the person had a drink from a hotel minibar. CNN reports that the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana, where two deaths occurred, has now removed liquor dispensers from minibars. (Read more Dominican Republic stories.)