ATLANTA - A metro Atlanta woman told Channel 2 Action News she is among the many travelers who recently got sick while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
The deaths of at least nine American tourists in the Dominican Republic during the past year have sparked many questions about the safety of a stay on the Caribbean Island.
Francetta Clausell described how she became horribly sick on her flight home from the island in December, saying, "I felt like I was going to die up there. It's like something I never felt before."
The woman said she initially went to the island on vacation with a friend and didn't start to feel sick until the morning she was leaving her resort. Minutes earlier, she had eaten breakfast at a resort restaurant.
Clausell said she started to feel worse on her connecting flight to Atlanta.
"I stopped breathing. I felt like I was gasping for air. I couldn't breathe. I started vomiting. They had to get an air bag for me to breathe in," she said.
She said a registered nurse on the flight jumped in to help.
"They started an IV on me because my blood pressure was so low," Clausell said. "She thought for a moment that we had to do an emergency landing," Clausell said.
Clausell made it home but was sick in bed for days and developed a rash on her leg.
She recently learned that Bahia Principe, the property at which she stayed, is owned by the same company that owns a nearby resort where two American tourists died. She was stunned.
“All this started happening. I said, ‘Wait a minute. There's some connection between this,’" she said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting officials in the Dominican Republic with toxicology tests on some of the tourists who have died. The process could take weeks.
Tainted alcohol is suspected in some cases, but Clausell said she doesn't drink.
“That the thing. No one knows what's going on," she said.
Channel 2’s Tom Regan called the resort twice for a comment but wasn't able to reach a representative.
Clausell said her heart goes out to the families of the tourists who have died.
“I felt bad for the families, of course,” she said. “By the grace of God, I'm alive. I believe my life was spared."
Regan checked into the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisory for the Dominican Republic. It says Americans should use increased caution because of crime, but it makes no mention of the spate of tourist deaths.
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