3 American tourists found dead at Bahamas resort identified

A Tennessee couple and a Florida man were officially identified Monday as the three Americans who died at a Bahamas resort last week after authorities said they fell ill.

Police officials of the island nation named the deceased couple as Michael Phillips, 68, and his wife Robbie, 65. The identity of the third fatality, Vincent Paul Chiarella, 64, had been previously confirmed by his family.

They were all guests of the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Great Exuma.

Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, 65, was airlifted to a hospital in Florida and remained in serious condition, Royal Bahamas Police Commissioner Paul Rolle said at a news conference Monday.

Officials said they could not yet provide a cause of death, and were expediting the toxicological examinations with the help of a lab in Philadelphia.

“Once those samples are done, our pathologist will be able to provide an official report as to an exact cause of death and determine exactly what has happened,” Rolle said.

Michael and Robbie Phillips. Robbie Phillips / via Facebook

The deaths have cast a cloud over the resort hotel in a stretch of the Bahamas billed as a luxury destination, beckoning tourists with its turquoise waters and white sands.

Despite the mysterious circumstances surrounding the case, officials said no foul play is suspected at this time. Rolle was reluctant to theorize what may have happened.

But the commissioner said that samples from the premises were collected and will be tested to “determine whether or not there was a chemical” leak involved. An unsubstantiated report on social media claimed there was a faulty air-conditioning unit on site.

“We really want to know what caused this without speculation,” Rolle said.

On Thursday, a number of guests were taken to a clinic for nausea and vomiting and were treated, the island’s health minister, Dr. Michael Darville, told Eyewitness News Bahamas.

Staff alerted police on Friday morning after finding three guests dead.

Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, Bahamas.Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma, Bahamas.Google Maps

Chiarella was discovered in his villa on the floor of his bedroom, while the bodies of the Phillipses were found in another villa. Michael Phillips was in the bathroom and Robbie Phillips was in bed, police said.

“Both individuals showed signs of convulsion,” officials said in a statement.

Chiarella’s son, Austin Chiarella, previously told NBC News that he was frustrated after being given few details about what happened to his parents.

Sandals on Saturday confirmed the deaths, but declined to provide more information “out of respect for the privacy of our guests.”

“Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests,” the resort said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department also said it was “closely monitoring” the police investigation and stands “ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

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