SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ( Associated Press) — Samples taken from three tourists from Tennessee and Florida who died under mysterious circumstances at a resort in the Bahamas were set to expedite results and help officials understand what happened , the officials said, have been sent to a laboratory in the US, officials said Monday.
The Bahamas Police Commissioner, Paul Rowley, said officers also collected samples from rooms where tourists were staying to determine if any contaminants were present.
“We really want to know what’s causing this,” he said.
They identified the victims as a married couple from Tennessee, Michael Phillips, 68, and Robbie Phillips, 65, and Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, a resident of Florida. Rolle refused to provide his hometown.
Rowley said Chiarella’s wife, Donice, was taken to a hospital in Florida and remains in critical condition.
Their bodies were found Friday morning at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, where the couple were staying in two separate villas.
Phillips apparently owned a company called Royal Travel, and Robbie Phillips, who called herself “The Sand Lady”, specialized in arranging trips to Sandals Resorts. She posted pictures of the resort’s beach on her Facebook page on Thursday, saying she was there with her husband.
According to the company’s website, the couple had three children and six grandchildren.
Rowley said samples taken from the victims were sent to a laboratory in Philadelphia, with the results of the toxicology study expected in about a week. He said the Bahamas’ environmental health department and police officers are still at the resort.
Asked what he thinks may have been the cause of the tourists’ deaths, Rolle said: “I’m not going to speculate.”
He said all four tourists had gone to a doctor the night before their bodies were discovered and complained of feeling ill. He said that they went at different times and they ate different things.
Meanwhile, Sandals Resorts said it would not comment further than its original statement, which said it was supporting the investigation and the families of those affected.
“Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time,” the company said.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price also confirmed the deaths of three US citizens and offered “heartfelt condolences to the families and other loved ones of those who died.”
“We are closely monitoring the local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death and we stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” he said.
The deaths come seven years after a Delaware family became seriously ill at a resort in the US Virgin Islands. US officials determined that methyl bromide, a highly toxic insecticide banned for indoor residential use in 1984, was to blame and used several times at that resort.
Associated Press reporter Michael Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey contributed.