NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Another American tourist has mysteriously died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
The latest victim in the popular tourist destination – a New York City mother. That’s now a half dozen deaths in the past year.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer spoke to the woman’s son, who is desperately searching for answers amid his grief.
Leyla Cox of Staten Island was on a solo birthday trip to the Dominican when she passed away this past Monday.
“I didn’t realize how much of an impact she made in New York until she passed away and that just shows how much of a bright light she was and now it’s forever extinguished in this world,” her son, Will Cox said.
The 53-year-old’s only son got the news when the U.S. embassy in the D.R. called him to tell him she died of a heart attack.
“I do not believe it was of natural causes. I truly believe if she was anywhere else in the world besides the Dominican Republic she’d be alive right now and we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” the grieving 25-year-old declared.
Cox joins a growing list of Americans who have passed away while in the Caribbean country over the last year.
Among those five, a Pennsylvania woman and a couple from Maryland all three died at the same resort.
Preliminary autopsies released by Dominican authorities say they all had fluid in their lungs and respiratory failure. Toxicology reports are not yet available.
Robert Wallace’s family said he quickly became sick and died after drinking a scotch from the minibar at a different hotel.
Nearly two months later, his family still doesn’t have answers.
Leyla Cox was staying at another hotel. Her son said he was told there would be no toxicology report because her autopsy showed no red flags and that the toxicology machine was broken.
Before Cox’s death, the U.S. embassy in the D.R. said in a statement, it had “no indication of any connection between the previous deaths.”
The ministry of tourism there said investigations are in progress.
“I’m going to miss my mother. I’m not ready to lose my mom and I would do anything to get her back and nothing I can do will get her back and I just hope for some answers,” Will Cox said.
He added that he can’t properly begin to grieve until he knows for sure why his mother died.
Cox told CBS2’s Alice Gainer that his mother traveled a lot and this was her third trip to the Dominican Republic.
A spokesman for the U.S. State Department says it’s closely monitoring the police investigation in Punta Cana regarding Leyla Cox’s cause of death.