UPDATED 7/15, 5:05 p.m. ET: The State Department has confirmed that Tracy Jester Jr. died while visiting the Dominican Republic this past March.
"We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in the Dominican Republic in March 2019," a state department spokesperson told ABC News. "We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide." There is no evidence that links his death to the other American tourists who have died on the island.
See original story below.
A Georgia mom is seeking answers into the cause of her son's death in the Dominican Republic earlier this year, prompting speculation into whether her son's sudden passing is in any way connected to the other mysterious deaths on the Caribbean island.
31-year-old Tracy Jester Jr. flew to the Dominican Republic with his sister for a weekend getaway in March, his mother Melody Moore told Atlanta news station WSB-TV 2. “They had a good day,” she said. “Saturday, they went out, they explored. They said they had a good day.”
When she spoke to her son, he didn't seem out of the ordinary, but he did mention that he drank a soda that didn't taste right. The following day, Jester's sister called Moore in a panic and told her Tracy was having a hard time breathing. “She called me about 3:30 in the morning and she told me he was calling her saying he couldn’t breathe, just saying, ‘Mama I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’” Moore recalls.
Jester's sister called 911, but it was too late and he passed shortly thereafter. According to her son's death certificate, Jester died of a respiratory problem but Moore believes there are still questions that need answers. "Being a mom, I want to go to where he was, where he died at last. Something is wrong, my son is gone. Something is really wrong," she said. “As a mother, you’re not there when your son takes his last breath. That hurts and I mean, you’ve got so many questions.”
In addition to Tracy, at least 11 American tourists have died while visiting the Dominican Republic over the last 13 months, which has prompted widespread media attention and an FBI investigation. Although a direct link has yet to be identified, all of the victims reportedly suffered similar symptoms prior to their mysterious deaths, including respiratory failure. Additionally, various American tourists drank beverages from the minibar prior to experiencing any symptoms.
On Thursday, Canadian outlet Global News reported that 28 Canadians have died in the Dominican Republic this year alone, heightening concerns over travel safety on the Caribbean island. According to data acquired by the outlet, the 28 deaths do not indicate a spike in tourists deaths, as an average of 39 Canadians died each year in the Dominican Republic over the last decade.
"While 28 deaths in the first five months of 2019 put the number on track to double the previous year’s, Global Affairs says the highest amount of Canadian travel is in the first five months of the year, and the number of deaths for that same period in 2018 was also 28," Global News notes.