STUMP » Articles » Mortality with Meep: Even More Dominican Republic Deaths » 22 June 2019, 07:40

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Mortality with Meep: Even More Dominican Republic Deaths  


22 June 2019, 07:40

Yeah, more of these.

This time I’m not going to talk stats, because it’s a PR problem and not a stats problem, really. I still haven’t seen a damn thing that is really helpful to the Dominican Republic in their response. I went to the DR tourism board site, and looking at it, maybe they really can’t afford a good emergency PR team.

Here’s their logo/motto:

They have it all! Including death!

Okay, not the best of taste.


Alabama teacher latest to die in the Dominican Republic from cosmetic surgery

An Alabama high school teacher who traveled to the Dominican Republic for elective procedures died from complications, according to a report.

Alicia Renette Williams, a 45-year-old mom, suffered blood clots from going under the knife June 2 on the Caribbean island, news station WBRC reported.

Williams, who taught English at Huffman High School, died from complications five days after the procedure. Her body was brought back to the US on Monday, according to WBRC.
Her death marks the second American tourist to die this month from cosmetic surgery on the island. New York City restaurant worker Manuel Nuñez, 28, died after undergoing liposuction last Tuesday at a clinic in Santo Domingo.

Well, this isn’t exactly the story with the other deaths.

Let’s go to those.

Two more Americans reported dead after Dominican Republic vacations

Two more Americans — a man from Kansas and a woman from Pennsylvania — died during vacations in the Dominican Republic, amid a recent spate of tourist deaths in the country, according to a new report.

The families of Chris Palmer — a 41-year-old Army veteran from Kansas who died on April 18, 2018, and Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, a 69-year-old retired nurse from Pennsylvania who died on Sept. 17, 2016 — came forward to Fox News to report their deaths.

The State Department confirmed the deaths to the network Thursday.

Both Palmer and Maser-Mitchell died of heart attacks, according to official determinations by Dominican authorities, the report said.

They have more of the stories there.

I want to highlight these stories are from 2016 and 2018. Many people will not pay attention to such details, and think this is recent.

Again, I don’t want to talk stats, but I want you to think about spurious patterns, where people come out after the fact to fit the supposed pattern.

Woman on honeymoon becomes 10th US tourist to die after Dominican Republic vacation

A Louisiana woman died less than a week after returning from her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic, WWLTV reported, making her the 10th U.S. tourist to die after visiting the Dominican Republic.

It was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime for Susan Simoneaux and her husband, Keith Williams, who had been together 10 years, when they traveled to Punta Cana shortly after getting married.

But it quickly turned into a nightmare.

Less than a week after returning home from the Dominican Republic, Simoneaux was rushed to the hospital with fluid in her lungs, according to WWLTV. She died on Tuesday.

Her husband said he did not know that at least nine other Americans had died while visiting the Dominican Republic, and dozens of others had fallen ill.

“I would have never went if I would have known,” Williams told WWLTV. “I did not know to be honest with you.”

Investigations are still ongoing and Dominican authorities say they have not found any connection between the deaths.

I will note: they did not indicate how old that woman was. I followed the link, and that one did not indicate how old the woman was.

I’m looking at photos… and she looks as old as my mom. I’m 45. So.

If she died in the U.S., I assume they can do a proper autopsy.


Fine, somebody has some statistics.

Now, I have issues with some of these. Let me copy a few over.

I have no issue with this one. I was wondering how many Americans died in the DR each year. It looks like it’s been under 30.

That’s really not a lot of deaths. Yes, you’re going to get random happenstance from 2 million people visiting from the U.S. each year. And yes, those 2 million aren’t staying for a full year, but even if this is equivalent to 20,000 people-years (see prior post for explanation), 30 deaths is not a lot.


You’ve got to look closely at the fine print. This is for “non-natural” deaths (homicide, suicide, accident), and the suspicious deaths are ones that have been bunched into the “natural” deaths (pulmonary edema, cardiac arrest…)

So I’m suspicious again.

One more graph and I’m done with stats:

Okay, this is comparing raw death rates. I complained about that here.

But let’s ignore the raw death rate issue. What the hell happened in Mexico in 2010? You can’t just show a big mortality spike without comment.

I thought… maybe an earthquake! Nope. There were earthquakes, but not many deaths (as in, fewer than 10 people total.)

It sounds more like Mexico’s drug war.

Still – don’t just show a graph without commenting on its most prominent feature.


Well, you probably won’t die.

Let’s see what a politician has to say.

Dominican-American Congressman Says He’s ‘Concerned’ After Deaths, but They Shouldn’t Stop Tourist Visits

The first Dominican-American to serve in Congress says there’s no reason to fear visiting the Dominican Republic, but he’s planning to visit the Caribbean nation next month to get answers following the deaths of nine American tourists this year.

“First of all, I’m concerned about the deaths,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat from New York, tells TIME. “I will look into them and I’m sure the U.S. authorities, including the FBI and the Dominican authorities, are looking into the causes of them. I will fight for that to happen, for them to get to the bottom of it.”

Espaillat made the announcement on Wednesday, saying he plans to speak to tourism and government officials to learn the latest details on the headline-making deaths––many of which came after travelers reportedly fell suddenly ill.

He also notes that statistics have shown the country is a safer destination than many other vacation spots in the region. According to the State Department, there has been no evidence of foul play and no sign that the deaths are connected.

“I’m concerned about any death and my condolences go out to the families,” he says. “I will do everything possible to ensure that the FBI looks at what happened, but you know I’m going as a tourist, and my message is not only am I going to celebrate July 4th but also to do as I’ve always done every year, and that is visiting the Dominican Republic.”

There are a lot of Dominicans in New York City, and they will not stop going back to the DR. I am willing to bet plenty of Americans will continue to go to the DR, because it is very affordable, convenient to go to, etc.

I’ve been scouring the news to see what PR the Dominican Republic is doing.

I went to the tourism board’s news releases, and here is what I’ve got:



June 12 – 10 days ago – is the last press release I can find.

Other news coverage, from the last 3 days:

Some of the stories above have nothing to do with the “mysterious” deaths.

Still, I cannot see much in the way of the Dominican government response. They’ve got a serious problem on their hands, no matter what the stats say. I am telling you right now, the stats will not convince anybody.

Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going with arguing the statistics.

I’m sorry guys – I happen to agree, re: stats, but that’s not how you deal with this.

Autopsies show the tourists died of natural causes, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García told reporters. He said five of the autopsies are complete, and three are undergoing further toxicological analysis with the help from the FBI because of the circumstances of the deaths.

I think getting the FBI to help may be useful, but, unfortunately, you will get people who say “they’re covering it up!” even if those autopsies/toxicology reports come up with nothing untoward.

Every so often one gets a spate of these media panics (such as the shark attack summer of 2001), because the beast must be fed. Sometimes these stories are placed… such as when somebody has a big lawsuit, and they’re trying to get judgment by press.

But dear lord, people, stop arguing the statistics. Get the autopsies/toxicology reports done and disclose the info…. though the relatives may not want the info disclosed. Such as if drug use was involved in some of these cases.

In any case, I’ll keep up with this, because death rates are my jam. And so far, I agree with the DR officials that the specific numbers are not suspicious. But we shall see.

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