As authorities investigate the unexplained deaths of three Americans at a resort in the Dominican Republic, a Colorado couple who stayed at the same facility last year said they became violently ill after being exposed to what they suspect were insecticides spread through the air conditioning system.
Kaylynn Knull, 29, and her boyfriend Tom Schwander, 33, filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the owners of Grand Bahia Principe Hotel La Romana, blaming them for causing their sickness in June 2018.
Knull reached out to CNN almost immediately after learning three Americans had just died at the same resort.
One year ago this month, the Colorado couple traveled to the all-inclusive resort and for the first few days it seemed like the vacation of a lifetime.
But on the fourth day, Knull became ill.
“I woke up with a headache one morning,” Knull said. “We had gone to breakfast to see if I could get some water, get some juice, try some food, feel better. And then when we came back to the room, it actually hit us a lot stronger and we smelled the smell of chemicals.”
She got progressively worse, then Schwander started feeling it too.
They say they were sweating, drooling, dizzy, and nauseous.
And it wouldn’t go away.
Neither would the smell in their hotel room.
“We saw a housekeeper outside and like called her in to see if she could come in,” Knull said. “She walked maybe five, six feet into the room and turned around and said, I’m not doing that. And then got on her walkie-talkie with the front desk and said something is going on with this room. She refused to come in and clean it.”
The couple had seen someone spraying the plants near the air conditioner outside their room.
They switched rooms twice, but it didn’t help the symptoms.
“It progressed over the rest of our trip and then over the course of a couple of weeks,” Schwander said. “The abdominal, the abdominal cramping and the GI upset lasted for a couple of a few weeks.”
He said the abdominal cramping was the hardest symptom to deal with.
Back in Colorado, Knull’s physician diagnosed her with organophosphate poisoning.
Schwander’s doctors suspect the same thing.
Organophosphates are man-made chemicals found in insecticides.
They are heavily regulated and, in some cases, banned in the U.S
Exposure can cause increased saliva, tear productions, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, confusion and death.
The couple still has occasional symptoms, and they are most concerned about their future health, even after filing a lawsuit they still do not know what exactly poisoned them.
“Honestly, all I wanted was the chemical name,” Knull said. “That is all I ever wanted. I could care less about the money if I can save my own life later. And him too. It’s what happened to him. What happened to me? What is it that we can do at this point?”
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, about three million people worldwide are exposed to organophosphates every year.
It reports exposure to the chemicals have caused 300,000 deaths.
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