11th American to die in Dominican Republic died of ‘natural causes,’ government says

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(SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic) — One of the 11 Americans who have died while visiting the Dominican Republic since June of 2018 died of “natural causes,” according to the country’s minister of tourism.

Tracy Jerome Jester Jr. of Forsyth, Georgia, died on March 17 after a day of sightseeing while vacationing with his sister at a resort, his mother, Melody Moore, told ABC News last week. The 31-year-old was planning to fly back to the U.S. the next morning but complained of vomiting and breathing problems the day he died, she said.

Jester’s autopsy confirms that he died of “natural causes,” according to a statement on Wednesday from the Dominican Republic Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia. His official cause of death was listed as basal bilateral pneumonia, which produced a pleural effusion and acute respiratory insufficiency.

“We extend our sincerest condolences to Mr. Jester’s family,” Garcia said.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed Jester’s death to ABC News in a statement last week. The name of the resort where Jester stayed was not immediately available.

His body was returned to the U.S. on April 4. Moore said he had lupus and that “respiratory illness” was written on his death certificate, but she has not seen the document.

Because of the other reports of Americans dying in the country, Moore now wants “to know the truth” about Jester’s death, Moore said.

The State Department said there was no immediate evidence linking Jester’s death to any of the other tourists who have died, and that there has been no “uptick” in American deaths in the Dominican Republic, despite a recent rise in media attention.

Around 2.7 million Americans visit the Dominican Republic every year, Garcia said, adding that an intergovernmental National Tourism Safety Council is being formed to “safeguard the traveling public.”

In addition, the government is establishing a multi-lingual tourist center, doubling hotel inspections to ensure strict compliance with food and beverage regulations, as well as environmental standards, and scrutinizing the professional qualifications of doctors and staff at medical offices within hotel facilities, Garcia said.

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