Guests vacationing at the Sandals Bahamas resort where three Americans were found dead say they have complained about a ‘strong odor’ of insecticide in the area that some say has turned into a ‘ghost town’ since the tragic deaths.
Several of the vacationers told NBC News that the had complained about the odor at the resort. The complaints were given to the authorities following the shocking deaths of three Americans at Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Great Exuma last week, according to NBC News.
Bahamian authorities said on Monday they have identified three victims as a couple, Robbie Phillips, 65, and Michael Phillips, 68, of Tennessee; and Vincent Chiarella, 64, of Florida. Chiarella’s wife was also airlifted and taken to the hospital in serious condition.
The Phillips’ worked as travel agents for Sandals resorts and were vacationing at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma when they were found dead in their room on Friday.
A third American, Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, of Florida, was previously identified as a victim of the mysterious illness. His wife, Donnis, was also airlifted to a hospital in Florida, where she remains in serious condition.
Bahamian officials are now sending samples extracted from their bodies – as well as those from the rooms where they were staying and the surrounding areas – to a lab in the United States to help determine what happened to them.
The American labs will expedite tests to determine whether any contaminants were present when they died, as guests claim an air conditioner leak was at fault.
There has not been any official speculation, or confirmation, on what may have killed the trio, who were holidaying separately.
Bahamian officials identified two of the three Americans who were found dead at a resort on Friday as Michael Phillips, 68, left, and his wife, Robbie Phillips, 65, of Tennessee. They are pictured on another vacation in September
The couple worked as travel agents for Sandals resorts, where they apparently loved to stay
Guests vacationing at the Sandals Bahamas resort where three Americans were found dead say they have complained about a ‘strong odor’ of insecticide in the area
Several of the vacationers told NBC News that the had complained about the odor at the resort
Honeymooners Sydney Rosenquist and Chasen Toth joined ‘Fox & Friends First’ to discuss their stay after three Americans who died under mysterious circumstances at a luxury resort on the island of Great Exuma on Friday.
The couple who got married on May 1, called the resort a ‘ghost town’ and said many people had left following the news. They claimed the resort’s staff has not been open with guests about the incident.
‘I definitely think they should be more transparent,’ Rosenquist said on ‘Fox and Friends First,’ adding: ‘Everybody is kind of just hush-hush about it.
‘It is a scary feeling being here right now,’ her hubby told co-host Carley Shimkus. ‘And it’s a little uncomfortable for both of us … I want this to be the happiest time in my life, but it’s kind of hard, though, just with the situation that is going on.’
A lab in Philadelphia will now expedite toxicology tests to determine whether any contaminants were present when the Americans died.
‘We really want to know what caused this,’ Rolle said on Monday.
The results will be ready in about a week, Rolle said, noting that the Bahamas´ Department of Environmental Health and police officers are still at the resort.
But when asked what he thinks might have caused the tourists´ deaths, Rolle said: ‘I’m not going to speculate.’
He noted that all four tourists went to a doctor the night before their bodies were discovered and they had complained of feeling ill. He said they went at different times and had eaten different things.
None of the victims showed signs of trauma, and foul play is not suspected, Bahamian officials have said.
Vincent Chiarella, left, was found dead at a Bahamas resort on Friday morning by his wife, Donnis, right, who is now in critical condition at a Florida hospital
The American victims were found dead Friday morning at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, where the couples had been staying in two separate villas.
They were all said to have suffered from convulsions before their deaths, and when Donnis Chiarella, from Panama, Florida, woke up on Friday morning, she found herself paralyzed and her late husband not moving, the couple’s devastated son Austin Chiarella previously told ABC News.
‘She woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor, and she couldn’t move,’ he said. ‘Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn’t move and she screamed to get someone to come in the door.’
The stricken son said his mom had first fallen ill on Thursday, and visited a local clinic. She was discharged shortly afterwards, and believed her health had improved.
An initial investigation also found that the Phillips had ‘complained of illness the previous evening,’ cops previously announced, adding that the pair ‘attended the local Medical facility’ where they received treatment, and then returned to their lodging.
The investigation into their deaths is ongoing, and US State Department officials told USA Today over the weekend it is ‘closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death.
‘We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,’ the department said in a statement. ‘Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.’
All of the American tourists were staying at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma (pictured)
What is Freon? The toxic chemical found in air conditioners
Air conditioners commonly use a chemical called Freon, which can prove toxic if inhaled, as a refrigerant.
The chemical is a stable, nonflammable, moderately toxic gas that is tasteless and mostly odorless.
Signs of Freon exposure include irritation of the lungs, burns on the esophagus and irritation of the stomach.
Skin lesions and tissue damage are also common symptoms of those experiencing Freon poisoning.
Lung failure or death may occur with prolonged exposure to Freon.
Accidental poisoning from Freon, while rare, usually occurs in persons who work directly with cooling chemicals.
Symptoms of mild to moderate Freon poisoning include:
-irritation of eyes, ears, and throat
Severe Freon poisoning symptoms include:
-loss of consciousness
-bleeding or fluid buildup in the lungs
-burning irregular heartbeat confusion coma or sudden death
Another American vacationer has previously blamed a faulty air conditioner for their deaths, though that has not yet been confirmed.
In a Facebook post, Chris Coucheron-Aamot wrote that: ‘Three of our neighbors in the building right next to us died and a fourth was airlifted in critical condition early yesterday.
The post, which seemed to be penned by Coucheron-Aamot’s partner, describes a crime scene at the resort’s luxury beachside villas where the bodies of the guests were discovered by hotel personnel.
He added: ‘There was crime scene tape and security guards all around our unit,’ the post from Coucheron-Aamot, who was staying in the same villas as the stricken guests, reads.
In the post, Coucheron-Aamot – who said he was continuing his vacation at the resort despite the deaths – suggested that there may have been issues with some of the villas’ air-condition systems that may have led to the deaths.
‘It sounds like it may have been a fault with the a/c in the unit, causing a toxic coolant leak,’ the post reads.
‘It was hard to sleep last night – every time the a/c came on, I woke up.
‘We’re continuing our vacation because that’s what I would want people to do if I were to have been one who died – celebrate my life by living yours to the fullest. That said, our hearts are with those who grieve. May God have mercy on them and us.’
In a statement to DailyMail.com Friday, a Sandals spokesperson said they were cooperating with police’s investigation. The representative did not address inquiries regarding claims over the reportedly faulty a/c unit.
‘Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests,’ the rep wrote in an emailed statement.
‘A health emergency was initially reported and following our protocols we immediately alerted emergency medical professionals and relevant local authorities.
‘We are actively working to support both the investigation as well as the guests’ families in every way possible during this difficult time. Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time.’
Sandals said staff were alerted to a medical emergency and the victims’ families are being supported, she told the Mirror.
They would not comment further on the deaths on Monday, saying instead: ‘Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time.’
Chris Coucheron-Aamot, who was also staying at the resort, blamed an air conditioner leak for their deaths, though that has not yet been confirmed
Just one day before her untimely death, Robbie Phillips posted pictures of the beach to her Facebook as she apparently tried to sell others on the idea of the resort.
‘If you want the most beautiful long private beach with clear blue water and you like to hear the waves lapping, see sand dunes and hear the seagulls talking – this is it!’ she wrote on May 5, describing it as ‘relaxing.’
‘The Greg Norman golf course is a bonus,’ she added.
Following the news of her death, that post was filed with people offering their condolences.
‘I’m so sorry to hear about this devastating loss,’ Marcie Muensterman wrote. ‘I simply cannot imagine how your family is feeling, and I will say a prayer for everyone who knew and loved Robbie and Mike.’
Gail Minyon Yunker also wrote: ‘You know, I always think of Robbie and Mike as lovers in love, and always loving the Sandals resorts as much as they loved them! Seems bittersweet!’
And Tammy Tambara Austin commented: ‘Oh my goodness. This is heartbreaking.
‘[They] were obviously having such a wonderful time. Prayers to their family and friends.’
One day before her death, Robbie posted pictures of the beach to her Facebook as she apparently tried to sell others on the idea of the resort