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Maryville couple dies at Sandals resort in Bahamas

Robbie and Mike Phillips died at a Sandals resort in Exuma on May 6, according to police in the Bahamas.
Robbie and Mike Phillips died at a Sandals resort in Exuma on May 6, according to police in the...
Robbie and Mike Phillips died at a Sandals resort in Exuma on May 6, according to police in the Bahamas.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 1:12 PM CDT|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 4:09 PM CDT
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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Maryville couple was accounted for two of the three people found dead after getting sick at a Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in Exuma Island on May 6, according to Royal Bahamas Police Force Chief Superintendent Paul Rolle.

Robbie and Mike Phillips were on vacation at the resort, according to their Facebook accounts. The couple owned Royal Travel, a travel agency in Maryville.

Donnis and Vincent Paul Chiarella, who were visiting from Florida, were staying in a separate villa. Vincent was also found dead while his wife was airlifted to a Florida hospital in serious condition, according to Rolle.

The Phillips complained of nausea, vomiting and other symptoms Thursday night and were treated at a local medical facility, according to Bahamas Health Minister Dr. Michael Darville.

On Friday, both were found dead in their hotel room. Mike was found slumped against a wall while Robbie was on their bed, both showing signs of convulsion, according to CBS.

Rolle said they were sending sample to medical labs in the U.S. to determine the cause of death.

“We are actively engaging a lab in Philadelphia, PA in the United States to assist us with the expediting of the toxicological examinations of these samples,” Rolle said. “Once those examinations are done, our pathologists will be able to provide us with an official report as to the exact cause of death and help us to determine what exactly what has happened. Our forensic scientists also collected samples from both of the rooms and the properties of Sandals hotel in Exuma to determine whether or not contaminants present.”

A State Department Spokesperson told WVLT News that they were ready to assist in the investigation in whatever way possible.

“We can confirm the death of three U.S. citizens in The Bahamas on May 6,” the spokesperson said. “We offer our sincerest condolences to the families on their loss. We are closely monitoring local authorities’ investigation into the cause of death. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance. Out of respect for the privacy of the families, we have nothing further to add at this time.”

Robbie’s favorite part about her job was teaching her clients how to travel and leading them through each part of the planning process, according to the company website.

“They have three children and six grandchildren,” according to the website.

Acting Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Chester Cooper, issued a statement Friday saying that police were investigating and the cause of death was unknown, though foul play “is not suspected.”

“Nothing is more important to Sandals Resorts than the safety of our guests It is with deep sadness that we can confirm the passing of three guests at Sandals Emerald Bay on May 6, 2022. 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.”

A spokesperson said on behalf of Sandals Resorts

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