Bahamian authorities are continuing to investigate the mysterious deaths last week of three American tourists staying at the luxurious Sandals Emerald Bay resort on the island of Exuma.
Michael Phillips, 68, and his wife Robbie, 65, who lived in Tennessee, were found dead Friday morning in their villa. Vincent Chiarella, 64, was found dead in the neighboring villa; He was visiting the Bahamas with his wife, Donnis, who was found alive in her bed and rushed to hospital.
She was then airlifted to Florida and is in good condition Tuesday, a spokesperson told Fox News.
She was in good condition on Tuesday after being flown to Florida, Bahamas police said.
Detectives from New Providence, the nation’s most populous island and location of the capital Nassau, traveled to Exuma after police were alerted to the deaths.
Autopsies were performed on Monday and samples taken from the deceased were sent to Philadelphia for analysis, according to the Guardian of Nassau.
Bahamas Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said Monday the cause of death is still under investigation. Sandals is cooperating with authorities, according to a statement from the travel company.
chronology of events
The wives of Chiarella and Phillips complained of feeling unwell on Thursday night and received medical attention before returning to their rooms, Rolle said Monday.
“They were all cared for at different times and ate at different places,” he added.
Ms. Chiarella sounded the alarm on Friday morning, her son told ABC News.
“She woke up and my dad was lying on the floor and she couldn’t move,” Austin Chiarella said. “Her legs and arms were swollen and she couldn’t move and was screaming for someone to come through the door.”
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday May 7, resort staff contacted George Town Police and said “the body of a male was found unconscious in one of the villas,” according to a statement from the city. RBPF (Royal Bahamas Police Force).
“When they arrived at the site, they were directed to the first village. Upon entering a bedroom, they found a Caucasian male lying unresponsive on the floor. An examination of the body was carried out, no signs of trauma were found. The local doctor later pronounced the victim dead.
The statement continued: “Officers then proceeded to the second villa, where they found a Caucasian male slumped against a wall in a bathroom and unresponsive. A Caucasian female was also found in a bedroom on a bed. She has [sic] Did not respond. Both individuals showed signs of seizures. Officers examined the bodies and found no signs of trauma. The local doctor later pronounced both people dead.
Who were the victims?
The couple from the first villa identified themselves as Vincent and Robbie Chiarella, who were celebrating their wedding anniversary, their son said. The Chiarellas, who have spent most of their lives in Alabama, came from Panama City, Florida.
Chiarella remained in serious condition Monday, Rolle told a news conference, before being listed in fair condition the next day, according to Fox. According to an interview her brother, Steve Mulder, gave to dailymail.comwas covered in rashes.
“I’m so heartbroken right now,” Chiarella’s son Austin told ABC. “My dad was everything to me.”
In the nearby villa was the second couple found dead, identified as Michael and Robbie Phillips, owners of a travel agency in Tennessee.
Phillips was a “Certified Sandals Specialist, Sandals Preferred Agent, Certified Sandals WeddingMoons Specialist and a member of the Sandals President’s Royal Club,” according to the couple’s company website, Royal Travel.
As part of this travel agency, she founded The Sand Lady, which “started out as a mother-daughter team [pero] it has now expanded to include four adoptive sisters,” the website states.
“We have personally visited each of the resorts we offer and every year we attend several training sessions offered by Sandals. This way we stay up to date with all the new features and special offers each station has to offer. To ensure that we can meet all of our guests’ needs or requests, we maintain a personal relationship with Resort Managers, Wedding Coordinators and other staff at each Sandals and Beaches resort.
Robbie and Michael Phillips had three children and six grandchildren, their company website adds.
In her final post last week from Sandals Emerald Bay, Robbie shared stunning photos of turquoise waters and white sand beaches, writing, “If you want the most beautiful long private beach with clear blue water and you like to hear the waves crashing, watch the sand dunes and listen to the seagulls talk – this is the place for you! RELAXING”.
Phillips’ daughter, Kali Hanson, issued a family statement to The Independent Monday.
“Our hearts are heavy and broken, but full of hope,” the family said. “We know that our mom and dad experience the fulness of joy in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We miss them terribly already.”
“Our parents left a legacy of faith in Jesus and generously loved their family and friends. Please respect our family’s privacy at this time.”
Cause of death
Rolle said Monday that Department of Environmental Health investigators remained on Sandals property and that autopsies were being performed on the victims.
Samples taken from the deceased were sent to Philadelphia for analysis, he added.
“The pathologist took samples from all of the people and our medical examiners collected those samples for examination,” Rolle said, according to the report. Guardian of Nassau.
“We are actively contracting with a lab in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania … to help us expedite toxicology testing on all of these samples.”
“Once these tests are done, our pathologist will be able to give us an official report on the exact cause of death and help us determine exactly what happened.”
“Our medical examiners also took samples from rooms and properties at the Sandals resort in Exuma to determine whether or not contaminants are present.”
Although authorities have not offered theories about the cause of death, they have ruled out a crime, and other guests and relatives have named the air conditioning system as the possible culprit.
“When they got to the hotel, the air conditioning wasn’t working,” Chiarella’s brother told the dailymail.com. “They [el personal] They worked there every day. »
Another Sandals Emerald Bay guest also pointed to the air conditioning, writing on Facebook that it “looks like an air conditioning issue.”
“I had trouble sleeping last night, every time the air conditioner turned on it woke me up,” Chris Coucheron-Aamot wrote, according to the New York Post.
Air conditioners use toxic refrigerants, often Freon, which are odorless but can be fatal if inhaled for long periods.
Separately, guests at Sandals Emerald Bay have complained of a strong smell of insecticide in the resort and this has been reported to the RBPF, he said. NBC.
Preliminary test results were expected within seven days, Rolle said, but final reports could take weeks.
Meanwhile, US officials in the Bahamas said they were in contact with relatives of the victims and had been in close contact with them since Friday.