Investigators announced the cause of death of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, couple found dead on May 30 while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.
Cynthia Day, 50, and her fiancé, Nathaniel Holmes, 63, were found in their room at the Bahia Principe Hotel at the resort Playa Nueva Romana along the southeast coast of the island, according to local newspaper The Dominican Today.
Investigators said they died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
“It most likely indicates that there was some type of lung injury that led to basically leaking of the fluid on portions of the lungs that should be filled with air,” said Dr. Robert Shesser, chair of the department of emergency medicine at George Washington University. “When that happens, people don’t get enough oxygen and can die.”
Day and Holmes had been staying at the vacation spot since May 25 and were scheduled to fly back home May 30.
The bodies showed “no signs of violence,” according to The Dominican Today.
According to police, investigators are looking at the possibility carbon monoxide poisoning is to blame.
“Anything that decreases the amount of oxygen could lead to leakage in the lungs,” Shesser said. “The way carbon monoxide works is it basically poisons the cells, so even though there is enough oxygen around, it’s not being used properly.”
Police in the Dominican Republic did not confirm whether the couple's room had a carbon monoxide detector.
Speaking by phone, Sonya Jackson, Day’s sister, said the family is having a hard time believing respiratory issues caused the couple's deaths.
They plan on having another autopsy performed once Day's body is flown back to the United States this week.
“The family of Cynthia Ann Day, would like to thank the community for their condolences and support in the loss of their beloved daughter, mother and sister," family attorney Steven E. Bullock said in a statement. "We are continuing to investigate the exact cause of death. The family is determined to find out what happened and why. At this time the cause of death remains a mystery. The various theories that have been reported have yet to be substantiated. Thank you.”