After Woman’s Mysterious Death At Mexico Resort, Tourists Report Similar Incidents
Something sinister is happening at a handful of luxury Mexican resorts — at least according to one lawyer and some tourists who’ve vacationed there. After a young woman died under mysterious circumstances at the Iberostar Paraiso Resort in Playa Del Carmen, her family and attorneys have been looking for a plausible explanation for what happened to her.
Abbey Conner, 20, died in January within just a few hours of arriving at a resort with her family. She and her brother, Austin Conner, 23, were drinking and swimming in chest-deep water at the hotel pool. The last thing Austin remembered was taking some shots at the bar. The next? Waking up inside an ambulance.
An attorney hired by the Conner family
to investigate the situation visited the resort and noticed numerous young tourists hanging out drinking at the bar. But he also noticed something else.
“They serve alcohol drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks,” he wrote in a report, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Austin and Abbey were found unresponsive inside the hotel pool and taken to a nearby hospital. Austin suffered a broken collar bone and was able to recover. Abbey, however, was in a coma and later died.
“I’ve been in college for five years and had my fair share of drinks before,” Austin told the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel last week. “No way in hell I’m putting my face down in a pool and going to sleep.”
The investigation into Abbey's death by Mexican authorities was limited: Only three hotel employees were interviewed, according to the Sentinel. Abbey’s father, Bill Conner, said he thought she may have been drugged.
“Somebody just had to slip them some type of drug,” he said.
The Conners were not the first to report mysterious events and ultimately, tragedy, during their time at a luxury resort in Mexico. An investigation by the Journal Sentinel revealed other tourists found themselves in unexplainable situations with no memory of what had occurred.
One Wisconsin woman told the Journal Sentinel she was assaulted while she and her husband were unconscious. An ob-gyn confirmed she had, in fact, been assaulted. Her husband woke up with a broken hand. Neither had any memory of what happened. In another incident, two brothers from Minnesota were vacationing with their parents when they awoke covered in mud to find their wallets and cellphones gone. Neither had any memory of what happened.
“In at least three cases, travelers reported that local hospitals, part of the Hospiten chain, appeared to be gouging them, demanding large sums of cash,” the Journal-Sentinel reported. “One man was told to take a cab to an ATM. The vacationers suspected Iberostar might be in cahoots with the medical company.”
It remained unclear, exactly, whether the motive for these incidents was extortion, assault or robbery, or who was perpetrating the alleged crimes.
Maureen Webster launched the site Mexicovacationawareness.com after her 22-year-old son Nolan died at a resort almost 10 years ago.
“Every time, every single time, something bad happens, [the Mexican resorts and authorities] blame the victim,” she told the Journal-Sentinel. “They say, ‘They were drunk, they were drunk, they were drunk.’”
Karen Smith, another mother, connected with Webster after her own adult son, Brian Manucci, drowned in the same pool as Nolan Webster.
“There’s no accountability,” said Smith. “Even if it’s over-serving, they promote this risky behavior but have no means to handle it when it occurs. It’s just so mind boggling that something like this could occur, and it’s just like — ‘Oh, well.’”