Wife of American Who Died at Dominican Republic Resort Says Officials ‘Recommended’ She Cremate Husband

June 17, 2019 Updated: June 17, 2019

The wife of an American man who collapsed and died at a Dominican Republic resort last year says officials pushed her to cremate his body against her wishes.

Dawn McCoy said she and her husband, David Harrison, went to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana to celebrate their anniversary in July 2018 when he began feeling sick and woke up the next morning in a heavy sweat.

“He couldn’t sit up, and he was making noises that … you couldn’t make out. He was struggling quite a bit to get out of bed and to talk,” McCoy told WTOP. “I tried to communicate with him and all he could do was mumble.”

Soon enough, he was dead. Dominican officials said his cause of death was a heart attack and pulmonary edema, or fluid build-up in the lungs. Both are listed for many of the Americans who have died in the country in the past year, leaving family members concerned.

Now McCoy is saying Dominican officials tried guiding her towards a cremation for her husband.

“They kept trying to get me to cremate my husband. They kept telling me that it would be considerably cheaper to cremate him. I want to say they asked me probably three or four times before they sent him home,” she told People magazine.

“I was like, ‘No, no, no.’ Send him home. I want to make sure it’s him that’s coming home.”

McCoy said that getting her husband’s remains back to the United States was only possible after she paid a slew of bills—to the doctor at the hotel, for the ambulance that took him to a hospital, the hospital itself, the funeral home, and other places.

McCoy previously told Fox 5 that she had to pay over $20,000 in total.

She told the outlet that she did ultimately cremate her husband after an autopsy was completed in the Dominican Republic but regrets that she didn’t get another autopsy done.

The alleged pressure to get a cremation for a deceased family member in the Caribbean country follows Will Cox, a 25-year-old, relating a similar situation after his mother, Leyla Cox, died on June 10.

He said that he wasn’t able to get in touch with Dominican officials but when he spoke to embassy officials, they passed on information from the authorities.

“They put me against a wall. The Dominicans said that I had to sign papers giving them permission to take her to a funeral home, and if I didn’t do that in four hours, they were going to consider her a ‘Jane Doe.’ They said I had to give them permission to cremate her or embalm her, or I would never get my mother back,” Cox told Fox News.

“If they classified my mother as a Jane Doe, they told me I would be forfeiting the body. I will never receive a death certificate. I will never receive my mother’s remains. … They did conduct an autopsy, but they will not tell me what it says.”

Leyla Cox was the tenth American tourist to die under suspicious circumstances in the past year. A Pennsylvania yoga teacher was found dead in the water two days later while a New Jersey man was found dead in his hotel room on June 13.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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