Tourists in the tropics were victimized by shark attacks, random violence, poisonings, cruise ship accidents and other mishaps this year
By Andrew Mark Miller
Several tourists traveling to luxurious tropical vacation destinations saw their vacations take violent and sometimes deadly turns that became horror stories in 2022, including a North Carolina woman whose murder in Mexico remains unsolved.
Shanquella Robinson, a 25-year-old from North Carolina, traveled to the swanky Fundadores Beach Club in San José del Cabo, Mexico, Oct. 28 with a group of six friends.
The next day, Robinson was found dead, and her travel companions claimed she had suffered from alcohol poisoning.
A video later surfaced on social media showing a woman viciously beating Robinson inside their vacation villa. Mexican authorities later ruled the death a feticide, and an autopsy concluded that she died from “direct aggression” involving a severe spinal cord injury.
While Robinson’s death certificate suggests she died 15 minutes after suffering the neck injury, the Charlotte Observer reports that a doctor from a local hospital was with Robinson and her travel companions for close to three hours in the hotel room before she died.
Authorities in Mexico announced they have issued an arrest warrant for a female friend of Robinson’s who was deemed to be the “direct aggressor.”
It is unknown whether any arrests have been made or where the extradition process stands as law enforcement agencies in both countries have said little about the situation.
“All I want is justice,” Bernard Robinson, Shanquella’s father, said at a rally last week. “I just want the Mexican authorities, the embassy, to do the right thing, make it right. Because they came over there on your soil and did what they did and came back here.”
Vacationing Americans killed by carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide poisoning killed at least six Americans traveling abroad this year, including two high profile incidents in Mexico and the Bahamas.
The bodies of 28-year-olds Kandace Florence and Jordan Marshall and 33-year-old Courtez Hall were found in an Airbnb vacation rental in October after the trio traveled to Mexico City to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead.
An autopsy report showed the trio likely died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Florence’s boyfriend says the two spoke shortly before she died and that she told him that she was feeling sick and suggested something did not feel right. The call was then dropped, and the boyfriend, who was in the United States, was not able to reach her again.
The families have filed a lawsuit against Airbnb alleging the company did not do enough to ensure working carbon monoxide detectors were in the location, NBC News reported.
Over the summer, three Americans vacationing in the Bahamas were also killed by a carbon monoxide leak at an all-inclusive Sandals resort.
Michael Phillips, 68, Robbie Phillips, 65, of Tennessee, and Vincent Chiarella, 64, of Florida, were found unresponsive at Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma on May 6.
The exact cause of the leak remains unclear.
“Despite initial speculation, Bahamian authorities have concluded that the cause was an isolated incident in one standalone structure that housed two individual guest rooms and was in no way linked to the resort’s air conditioning system, food and beverage service, landscaping services or foul play,” Sandals said in a statement obtained by Fox News Digital in late May.
American dad attacked with machete and left for dead while vacationing in Mexico
Fox News Digital was first to report in October that Mexican authorities launched an investigation after Utah dad Dustan Jackson said he was attacked by a machete wielding assailant while vacationing with family in Cancun.
“Next thing I know, I show up to a grocery store, I get out at the grocery store, and bam! Light’s out,” Jackson said.
Jackson told Fox News Digital that he woke up in a ditch and had suffered serious injuries to his left shoulder and leg in addition to his front teeth being broken and a welt on the back of his head.
His cellphone and credit card had been taken.
“They hacked away at my entire left side of my body, shredding, trying to cut my tendons or kill me or whatever they were trying to freakin’ do,” he said. “And then they dumped me in a ditch. My shoulder’s completely broken off at this time.”
Jackson says he then struggled to his feet, bleeding and wounded, and found himself in a rundown neighborhood somewhere in the desert. Police at the first station he encountered told him to “go away.”
After some more difficulties navigating through Mexico with no phone or money, Jackson was able to return home but said his injuries have lingered and made it difficult to work.
Cruise ship mishaps
Several tourists found themselves in serious danger while vacationing on cruise ships this year, including Alabama construction worker James Micheal Grimes who went missing after falling off a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico last month and treading water for 20 hours before being rescued.
Grimes went missing around 11 p.m. after he left a bar to use the restroom the night before Thanksgiving. The next thing he remembered was waking up in the ocean with the ship totally out of sight. He said he did not remember how he went overboard.
A Coast Guard diver involved in the rescue said Grimes had “between a minute and 30 seconds left before we lost him completely.”
“I wanted to see my family and I was dead set on making it out of there. I was never accepting that this is it,” Grimes told ABC News. “I’m 28 years old. I’m too young. This is not going to be it.”
“I always thought there’s a greater purpose for my life. Now, I know for sure I’m meant to do something on this Earth.”
In May, Americans on board witnessed a horrifying scene when their Carnival cruise ship traveling from Florida to Turks and Caicos burst into flames. No one was reported hurt in the fire.
Earlier this month, an unidentified 36-year-old woman fell off a MSC Meraviglia cruise ship that was returning to Florida and was later found dead 18 miles off the Florida coast.
A 58-year-old woman from Pennsylvania who was enjoying a Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas cruise was killed in September after being attacked by a bull shark while snorkeling in the Bahamas.
Tourists attacked by sharks
Several other tourists were attacked by sharks in 2022 while on vacation in tropical destinations, including a 60-year-old Washington woman likely killed by an “aggressive” shark as she and her husband snorkeled 50 yards from shore near the Hawaiian island of Maui earlier this month.
The woman’s husband told investigators he and his wife were not snorkeling right next to one another, and he could only see her from time to time. As a shark circled him, he said he continued looking for his wife and thought that she might have been diving toward the ocean floor.
The husband then continued looking for his wife by popping his head out of the water and scanning the surface. The shark later came back, and the husband told investigators he could see something red around the shark’s gills. At that time, he said people on the beach began yelling at him to get out of the water because a shark was feeding in the area.
Witnesses corroborated the husband’s story, and it was determined the shark likely killed his wife, whose body has not yet been recovered.
In August, an 8-year-old British boy vacationing with his family was injured by a shark bites after jumping into a lagoon where a group of nurse sharks were feeding.
Finley Downer was bitten on both legs by at least three nurse sharks after going into a lagoon where he saw the sharks swimming among a crowd of people, his father, Michael, told the Sun. However, the children reportedly did not realize the sharks were being fed scraps of food when they went in the water.
“There was so much blood,” the distressed father told the outlet. “Bits of his leg were hanging off.”
“My son could have been killed. It was like a scene out of Jaws.”
Tourist travel warnings in tropical locations
Violence in several tropical destinations caused various governments to issue travel warnings to tourists in 2022, including in Jamaica where rising crime pushed the country’s prime minister to declare a state of emergency in several areas, including the popular tourist destination of Montego Bay.
The U.S. State Department on Oct. 5 issued a level 3 travel advisory to Jamaica, indicating that Americans should “reconsider travel” due to an increased risk of crime in the country. The advisory noted that “violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults and homicides, are common” and that “sexual assaults occur frequently,” even at all-inclusive resorts.
The U.S. government also warned in 2022 that citizens should not travel to the Mexican states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas due to crime and kidnapping concerns. The state of Guerrero is home to the popular tourist city of Acapulco.
Beachgoers in Acapulco were subject to a horrible scene in November when several dead bodies showing signs of torture washed up on the beach in what many believe was a scene linked to cartel violence in the country.
Additionally, the State Department has told Americans to “reconsider” travel to seven other states, including Baja California, which is home to the popular tourist areas of Ensenada and Rosarito.
The tourist haven of Turks and Caicos also experienced a surge in violent crime in 2022. The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 2 advisory for Americans traveling to the island nation.
“Exercise increased caution in the Turks and Caicos Islands due to crime,” the State Department said in early October, closer to the start of the crime wave. It also warns that traditionally, crime has risen in the country around the holidays and has added a “C” crime indicator warning there is a “moderate threat” in the country due to violence and the presence of organized crime.
The TSA said Monday it was prepared to handle holiday air travel volumes that it predicts would be “close to pre-pandemic levels.” This holiday season, Thursday, Dec. 22, and Friday, Dec. 30, are expected to be the busiest, according to the agency’s press release.
AAA recently projected that between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, some 112.7 million people will travel at least 50 miles from their homes, including almost 7.2 million by plane.