- A New York woman was found dead on Tuesday in her hotel room in the Dominican Republic, just a day after her 53rd birthday.
- Leyla Cox, who was from Staten Island, was staying at the Excellence resort, where she had stayed twice before.
- A Dominican police report listed that she died of a heart attack.
- Dominican authorities are pressuring Leyla Cox’s son, Will, to cremate or embalm her body cremated or embalmed before returning it to the US.
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A New York woman was found dead Tuesday in her hotel room in the Dominican Republic, just a day after celebrating her 53rd birthday, according to NBC News.
Leyla Cox, who was from Staten Island, travelled to Punta Cana on June 5 for a birthday trip. She was staying at the Excellence resort, where she had stayed twice before, Will Cox, Leyla’s son, told NBC’s Nightly News.
Amid several reports of other deaths of American tourists, Will said he tried to warn his mum, but said he wasn’t able to before her death.
“On June 11th, my worst fears came true,” he said to NBC on Friday. “She was pronounced dead.”
While the family still has no confirmed cause of death, Will said that a Dominican police report listed that she died of a heart attack, according to Fox News.
“Her birthday was on June 9 and she passed away on June 10,” he told the Staten Island Advance.
As of Friday, Leyla’s remains have not yet been returned to the US, according to NBC News, preventing the family from being able to mourn properly, William said.
“The Dominican Republic has put every roadblock in my way to prevent me from finding the answers that I need to sleep at night,” Will said. “It keeps me up at night knowing that my mother’s remains belongs to a foreign country.”
Instead of running toxicology tests, Will told Fox News that Dominican authorities are pressuring him to cremate or embalm his mother’s body cremated or embalmed before returning it to the US.
“I truly believe in some way, shape or form, the Dominican Republic is responsible for my mother’s death,” he said. “If she would have went anywhere else in the world, she’d be alive today.”
According to CNN, at least seven Americans have died in the Dominican Republic this year. A Dominican official recently called the deaths “isolated incidents.”
“These are situations that can occur in any country, in any hotel in the world,” Francisco Javier García, the tourism minister of the Dominican Republic said, according to The New York Times. “It’s regrettable but sometimes it happens.”
The US Embassy said in a statement that Dominican officials are asking for FBI assistance on getting toxicology reports, but the process could take 30 days.
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens that live in, work in, and visit the Dominican Republic remains our highest priority,” Ambassador Robin Bernstein said in a statement. “These incidents are tragic and we offer our deepest condolences to those personally impacted.”
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