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Samples flown to US in Sandals death cases

Toxicology results expected within days

Authorities have sent blood samples taken from the bodies of the three Americans found dead at Sandals Emerald Bay resort on Great Exuma on Friday to a lab in Philadelphia for examination and results are expected within seven days, Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle said yesterday.

“The pathologist has extracted samples from all of the persons and our forensic scientists have collected those samples for examination,” Rolle said.

“We are actively engaging a lab in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania … to assist us with expediting the toxicological examinations of all of these samples.

“Once those examinations are done, our pathologist would be able to provide us with an official report as to the exact cause of death and help us to determine exactly what has happened.

“Our forensic scientists have also collected samples from both of the rooms and the properties of the Sandals hotel in Exuma to determine whether or not any contaminants are present.”

The commissioner also said the victims had all gone to the health center in George Town complaining of illness on Thursday.

Rolle said they had eaten different things.

“They were all treated at different times and they ate at different places, so … we’re checking all of that, which we will hopefully be able to determine whether or not it was some food or something else that caused it,” he said.

The victims were officially identified yesterday as Michael Phillips, 68, and Robbie Phillips, 65, from Tennessee, and Vincent Chiarella, 64, from Florida.

Chiarella’s wife, Donnis Chiarella, 65, who was found alive, was in a hospital in Florida yesterday, still in serious condition, Rolle said.

The couples were staying in separate villas next to each other in the same building at the resort, according to officials.

According to police, shortly after 9 a.m. on Friday, officers were informed by resort staff that a man was found in one of the villas unresponsive.

While en route, police were informed that an additional man and woman were found unresponsive in another villa.

When they entered the first villa, they found a Caucasian man lying on the floor unresponsive. Police said there were no signs of trauma and the local doctor pronounced the victim dead.

In the second villa, officers found a Caucasian man slumped against a wall in a bedroom unresponsive, police said. A Caucasian female was also found unresponsive on a bed. Both individuals showed signs of convulsions.

Again, police said, there were no signs of trauma, and the doctor pronounced them dead.

Rolle said all of the victims’ property was being handed over to representatives at the US Embassy in Nassau.

“They will also be making arrangements to have the bodies prepared for repatriation to the families in the United States,” he said.

“As more information becomes available, we will make it available to you.”

Rolle said the autopsies were being conducted yesterday and he will provide updates when they are available.

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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