Monday, April 15, 2024

‘She Took Her Last Breath’: American Mom Texts Friend Ominous Final Message Before Dying on Flight From Dominican Republic

HomeU.S.'She Took Her Last Breath': American Mom Texts Friend Ominous Final Message...

An Indiana mother vacationing at a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic texted her friend about having “a funny story” to share just moments before she inexplicably fell ill and died aboard the flight home, leaving her family and authorities grasping for answers.

Stefanie Smith, 41, was returning to the U.S. with her boyfriend on February 28 after a week-long couples trip to the Iberostar Grand Bávaro resort in Punta Cana. According to her friend Maria Yannotti, who was also on the trip, Smith seemed perfectly healthy throughout their stay at the all-inclusive beachfront property where rooms start at over $600 per night.

“Everything she had, I had,” Yannotti told Fox News Digital. “We ate about the same meals. We drank about the same drinks…We were having a great time. We played beach volleyball. We swam.”

But just minutes after their American Airlines flight took off from Punta Cana around 5 p.m. bound for Charlotte, Smith’s condition took a shocking turn. Her boyfriend looked over to find the vivacious mother-of-two convulsing in her seat.

“He said, ‘Next thing you know, she was convulsing,'” Yannotti recounted, relaying what Smith’s boyfriend told her. He immediately called for help from the flight crew.

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Despite frantic efforts by attendants to perform CPR, Smith was unresponsive. The pilot was forced to divert the plane and make an emergency landing in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where local authorities were waiting on the tarmac.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Police Department said it received a call that day requesting medical assistance for “a 41-year-old female, who at the time was receiving [CPR].” A medical team transported Smith to a nearby facility where she was tragically pronounced dead.

Just 15 minutes before that nightmare unfolded, Smith had messaged Yannotti asking her friend to remind her to call when she arrived in Charlotte.

“She texted me at 4:55 right before she got on the plane, and she said, ‘Just text me so I can give you a call when I get to my layover in Charlotte. I have a funny story to tell you,'” Yannotti recalled.

“She took her last breath not knowing that was probably going to be her last breath.”

Now Smith’s loved ones are agonizing over how someone so youthful and energetic could suddenly perish without any apparent cause. An autopsy has been performed, but results are still pending.

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“She was a ball of energy,” Yannotti said of her friend. “She was always willing to help somebody, excited, always smiling…She was just full of life. I mean, she would give anybody a shirt off her back.”

Smith’s shocking death bears eerie similarities to the numerous mysterious casualties among American tourists vacationing in the Dominican Republic in recent years. Since 2018, at least 10 U.S. citizens have died under strange circumstances at Dominican Republic resorts, some allegedly after becoming critically ill from tainted alcohol or pesticides.

While the State Department once issued a travel advisory warning tourists to “exercise increased caution” in the country, the department has not issued any recent alerts regarding Dominican Republic travel. Officials have described the rash of tourist deaths as an “isolated issue” not impacting the country’s overall safety conditions.

For Smith’s loved ones left reeling by her sudden passing, such reassurances ring hollow. They knew the healthy and carefree woman joining them poolside just days ago at Iberostar Grand Bávaro, one of Punta Cana’s premier luxury accommodations famed for its opulence and service.

“She’s definitely one of a kind…Sometimes she would put people before herself, and she loved to have a good time,” Yannotti described. “Loved to laugh … sing karaoke. Just the life of the party.”

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Now instead of belting out tunes, Smith’s family is joining a grim contingent of Americans suffering shock and anguish over losing loved ones during what were supposed to be joyful Caribbean getaways. Many feel the U.S. Government has not made these mysterious tragedies a high enough priority.

Smith is survived by her devastated boyfriend, who was by her side when she abruptly fell ill during the short flight from seaside paradise back to reality. The couple’s harrowing final moments have left him utterly “shattered,” said Yannotti.

“I mean, he was sitting right there beside her. She took her last breath not knowing that was probably going to be her last breath,” she said. “So he’s taking it pretty bad.”

The circumstances of Smith’s baffling final hours may forever remain one of those “funny stories” she never got to share, a cruel irony imposing silence where vibrant life once reigned. Until the lingering questions are resolved, her untimely demise is no laughing matter – it’s a tragedy compounding upon many before it.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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