Investigators return to site of incident in Exuma
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Authorities were one step closer yesterday to uncovering the cause of deaths of three Americans who were found in their villas along with one survivor at Sandals Emerald Bay on Exuma last Friday.
At the Office of the Prime Minister, Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper said autopsies of the guests had been performed, one of three reports needed to determine the cause of death.
It could take another three weeks, according to authorities, for the pathology and toxicology reports to be completed, with blood samples sent to Pennsylvania to expedite the process.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville returned to Exuma with a team yesterday to further investigate the site, though the nature of those studies were not revealed.
“The process continues. The investigation is continuing. We are thankful to the multi-ministry team that visited Exuma led by Dr Darville. He’s visiting Exuma again today to do some additional work along with a team and when we have more information, as it relates to the cause of that, we’ll provide that for you.
“You know, yesterday the commissioner of police, as you know, released the official identities and he also indicated the process from here.
“Yesterday, there was an autopsy that was completed. There is no report for it as yet, as the commissioner of police rightly pointed out.
“There has to be some toxicology lab work, and that is being expedited as quickly as it can be done.”
The deceased guests include Robbie and Michael Phillips, who were celebrating their anniversary, and Vincent Chiarello, and his wife, Donnis, the sole survivor who was last in serious condition in hospital.
Visitors and residents on Exuma have been concerned about the deaths and said the investigation ought to be thorough and transparent.
Equally, residents expressed worries about tourism being impacted as a result.
But Cooper said generally people were “calm with a sense of concern, and also cautious optimism”.
He said there had not been significant cancellations of bookings from the Sandals resort, and overall the international community understands the matter was “an isolated situation contained to the two villas in question, contained to this resort”.
“They know that we have six island destinations within The Bahamas, so we are seeing very strong forward bookings,” said Cooper, the minister of tourism and investments.
“We’re still anticipating that the summer months is going to be very strong.
“And we are pleased that we have built a resilient brand and an outstanding product.
“We continue to be empathetic with the families impacted by this most unfortunate incident.
“As I announced previously, I’ve spoken with the families personally.
“We have provided candid answers as much as we have, and we have been forthright with the families and they appreciated the fact that they have been able to get the answers that we do have.”