A guest at the luxury Bahamas resort where three Americans were discovered dead and one hospitalized Friday morning says a faulty air conditioner leaking toxic coolant may have been to blame for the tragedy.
‘Three of our neighbors in the building right next to us died and a fourth was airlifted in critical condition early yesterday,’ a post to Facebook by Chris Coucheron-Aamot, who is currently vacationing at the Sandals Emerald Bay resort in Exuma, reads.
The post, which seemed to be penned by Coucheron-Aamot’s partner, describes a crime scene at the resort’s luxury beachside villas where the bodies of the guests – all confirmed to be American – were discovered by hotel personnel in at least two separate villas.
One of the dead has been identified as Vincent Chiarella of Birmingham, Alabama, whose wife Donnis – both in their mid 60s – was hospitalized. She, along with the two unidentified victims, reported feeling ill the night before the bodies were discovered.
‘There was crime scene tape and security guards all around our unit,’ the post from Coucheron-Aamot, who was staying in the same villas as the stricken guests, reads.
In the post, Coucheron-Aamot – who said he was continuing his vacation at the resort despite the deaths – suggested that there may have been issues with some of the villas’ air-condition systems that may have led to the deaths.
‘It sounds like it may have been a fault with the a/c in the unit, causing a toxic coolant leak,’ the post reads.
‘It was hard to sleep last night – every time the a/c came on, I woke up.
‘We’re continuing our vacation because that’s what I would want people to do if I were to have been one who died – celebrate my life by living yours to the fullest. That said, our hearts are with those who grieve. May God have mercy on them and us.’
Photos posted to Coucheron-Aamot’s chronicle his and another man presumed to be his partner’s stay at one of the ritzy resort’s villas, which ask guests pay nightly rates of up to $1227.
DailyMail.com reached out to Coucheron-Aamot Friday evening regarding the claims regarding the supposed fault a/c unit, but did not immediately hear back.
Most air conditioners use a chemical called Freon as a coolant, a moderately toxic gas that is tasteless and mostly odorless, and that can prove deadly if inhaled over a prolonged period of time.
Coucheron-Aamot’s claims come as police continue to investigate the deaths of the three American guests – two of whom complained of illness to hotel staff the previous evening.
An investigation by police discerned that those two guests, a couple staying at the same villa, suffered convulsions before their death.
‘Our initial investigations revealed that the couple found in the second villa complained of illness the previous evening,’ a statement released by New Providence police said.
‘They attended the local medical facility and on completion of receiving treatment, they returned to their lodging.’
Hotel staff came across the first body, Chiarella, shortly after 9 am Friday in a villa separate from that of the now-deceased couple, police said in their statement.
Officers at the George Town Police Station arrived on the scene shortly thereafter, where they were notified by hotel staff that another two guests – the couple – had been also been found unresponsive in another villa.
Police entered the first villa to find Chiarella lying on the ground with no signs of trauma, authorities said. The local doctor pronounced Chiarella dead at the scene.
Chiarella’s wife, Donnis, was then airlifted to a hospital in the capital city Nassau Friday morning, Exuma MP and Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper said.
She has since been airlifted to Kendall Regional facility in Florida, her son, Austin, who learned of his parents’ deaths after receiving a call from the US Embassy Friday night, told ABC.
After speaking to his mother, Vincent detailed to the outlet how she had found her husband Friday morning unresponsive on the floor, after also falling ill the previous
“She woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor, and she couldn’t move,” he said. “Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn’t move and she screamed to get someone to come in the door.”
She told her son she had fallen ill on Thursday but ‘thought she was alright’ after visiting the clinic, he said.
‘I am just so heartbroken right now,’ Austin Chiarella said. ‘My dad was everything to me.’
In the second villa, an unidentified man was found ‘slumped against a wall in a bathroom’ and the woman on a bed, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement. ‘Both individuals showed signs of convulsion,’ police said, a
They added that no signs of trauma were found on either bodies.
An initial investigation revealed that the couple found in the second villa had ‘complained of illness the previous evening,’ cops said, adding that the pair ‘attended the local Medical facility’ where they received treatment, and then returned to their lodging.
Police are currently awaiting an autopsy report to determine the exact cause of death. They were working to confirm the identities of the other deceased.
In a statement to DailyMail.com Friday, a Sandals spokesperson said they were cooperating with police’s investigation. The rep did not address inquiries regarding claims over the reportedly faulty a/c unit.
‘Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests,’ the rep wrote in an emailed statement.
‘A health emergency was initially reported and following our protocols we immediately alerted emergency medical professionals and relevant local authorities.
‘We are actively working to support both the investigation as well as the guests’ families in every way possible during this difficult time. Out of respect for the privacy of our guests, we cannot disclose further information at this time.’
Sandals said staff were alerted to a medical emergency and the victims’ families are being supported, she told the Mirror.
Mr Cooper said in a statement: ‘I have been regretfully informed today of the death of three American visitors, two men, and a woman, at a resort property on Exuma.
‘Another American woman has been airlifted to Princess Margaret Hospital.
‘I have been briefed by the commissioner of police and the resort’s executive management on the matter. I am currently in Eleuthera on ministerial business.
‘As I am acting in the capacity of prime minister, I have briefed Prime Minister Davis on the matter.
He continued: ‘Police are investigating and the cause of death is still unknown.
‘However, I am advised that foul play is not suspected. I have asked Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Michael Darville to lead a delegation this evening to Exuma of Health and Wellness, Environment and Public Works officials.
He added: ‘The public will be kept abreast of information as soon as it becomes available. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the families affected.’
The luxurious five-star adults-only resort is all inclusive and sits in a secluded area within 500 acres of tropical land.
It has a mile-long beach, three pools, 11 restaurants and an award-winning golf course.
Guests are free to take part in day and night tennis, beach volleyball and basketball, paddle boarding, snorkelling, and even offer free weddings to people staying for three nights or longer.