An American man who’s been staying at the building adjacent to the one where three American vacationers in the Bahamas died mysteriously this week may have an explanation for what happened.
As previously reported, three Americans mysteriously died of convulsions at the luxury all-inclusive Sandals Emerald Bay Resort in the Bahamas on Friday, and a fourth was hospitalized after an unknown “health emergency” suddenly occurred.
In a Facebook post published sometime after news of the deaths broke, a man named Chris Coucheron-Aamot, who described himself as a fellow vacationer situated in the building adjacent to where the deaths occurred, suggested a “fault” with the unit’s air conditioner had caused the deaths and “health emergency.”
“Three of our neighbors in the building right next to us died and a fourth was airlifted in critical condition early yesterday. There was crime scene tape and security guards all around our unit. It sounds like it may have been a fault with the a/c in the unit, causing a toxic coolant leak,” he wrote.
To be clear, there’s been no confirmation that this is true, as an investigation is reportedly currently underway.
Bahamian Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper reportedly said Friday that he’s been “advised that foul play is not suspected.”
What’s known is that air conditioners use a refrigerant known as Freon, and a leak of Freon into the air can be deadly.
“Breathing air that is contaminated with Freon can cause respiratory difficulties, organ damage and, in some cases, death. Symptoms can vary depending on the extent of the Freon exposure, but even a small amount of exposure can cause serious symptoms in humans,” according to Comfort Solutions HVAC, an HVAC contractor based in Pennsylvania.
“Mild symptoms of Freon exposure include excitability, dizziness, changes in heart rate and headaches. The lining of the throat or nose may become irritated, and the throat may swell. Pain in any exposed mucous membranes, such as the mouth, throat or eyes, is common after exposure. These symptoms can occur within minutes. More serious symptoms can occur after prolonged exposure.”
What’s also known is that the identities of one of the deceased victims, Vincent Chiarella, and the surviving victim, Donnis Chiarella, have been revealed to ABC News by their devastated son, Austin Chiarella.
“Vincent Chiarella, who was in his mid-60s, was staying in the Bahamas with his wife, Donnis Chiarella, for their anniversary, their son said,” according to ABC News.
“Donnis Chiarella, who is also in her mid-60s, was the fourth victim who survived, Austin Chiarella said. She is being airlifted to Kendall Regional facility in Florida and should arrive late Saturday afternoon, he said.”
According to Austin, his mother woke up Friday morning unable to move.
“She woke up and my dad was laying there on the floor, and she couldn’t move. Her legs and arms was swollen and she couldn’t move and she screamed to get someone to come in the door,” he said.
She’d reportedly fallen ill the day before but “thought she was alright” after she was released from a local clinic.
Austin’s mother has since been transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital in New Providence. It remains unclear if she’ll recover or remain paralyzed for life.
JUST IN: The air ambulance carrying an American woman who is being transported to Princess Margaret Hospital from Exuma, touched down in New Providence just after 7pm today.
Sandals Emerald Bay officials in Exuma released a statement confirming that three other guests had died. pic.twitter.com/Ke4QvM3ABq
— Our News Bahamas (@OurNewsRev) May 7, 2022
The last time a major set of Freon-related deaths occurred was in 2018, when a family in India died as a result of a malfunctioning air conditioner.
“Three members of a family died in Chennai on Monday after they inhaled a gas that came out of a malfunctioning air conditioner. … Their neighbours called the police after the family that included a 35-year-old man, his wife and son didn’t come out for a long time. The police broke open the door and found the bodies,” NDTV reported at the time.
“The family lived in Thiruvalluvar Nagar at Koyambedu in the city. Initial investigation revealed that the couple had turned on the inverter on Monday night as there was a power cut in the area. … The power supply was restored around midnight, but the couple and the child died.”
— NDTV (@ndtv) October 2, 2018
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