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Instagram model reveals truth about holiday

On her social media page, Cora Smith’s three-month holiday to the Dominican Republic looked like paradise. But in reality, the Instagram influencer says her time abroad was anything but.

Mrs Smith and her husband Jay spent three months in the Caribbean island from March 2018 to June 2018, frequently posing for poolside photos or sunsets by the ocean.

But behind the smiling selfies and snaps taken while on hiking trails, Mrs Smith said her holiday wasn’t as jovial as their joint Instagram account appeared.

The avid traveller from Florida said she was nearly kidnapped and sexually assaulted in separate incidents within weeks of arriving in the Dominican Republic.

Speaking to INSIDER, Mrs Smith said she was too scared to speak out about her experience while living on the island but changed her mind about telling the truth of her trip following the recent tourist deaths in the country.

“We were very worried about bashing anyone or anything. In all honesty, influencers are too scared to tell the truth and feel they need to show the beautiful side,” she told INSIDER. “Most people only want to hear the positive things.

“The whole time I was there, every fibre of my being was questioned,” she said. “I was miserable, I was sad, I was depressed. It created a depression that stuck for the better part of the year.”

Mrs Smith claims she was almost kidnapped on their second day in Santo Domingo after a man pulled up in a car next to her while she was out on a run.

She was alone at the time of the attempted attack and said the man sped away when she started running in the other direction. On another occasion, Mrs Smith was out for a bike ride with her husband when a group of men tried to assault her.

“They were violating me in every way you can except being raped,” she said. “I kept trying to kick them away, but I had no control of what was happening. They pushed my bike to try to get me to fall over. I’m yelling for my husband, but he’s ahead of me and he couldn’t hear me.”

On Tuesday, the FBI began investigating the string of disturbingly similar fatalities in the Dominican Republic after a sixth American tourist was reported to have died from a mysterious illness at a resort.

Many of the deaths — and several severe illnesses — involve healthy, middle-aged adults who had taken a drink from their hotel room minibar before suddenly becoming gravely sick.

That connection seems like more than a coincidence to the victims’ loved ones — and has led to new calls for action.

The latest death revealed was that of Robert Bell Wallace, 67, of California, who officials said died on April 14 during a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the Dominican resort town of Punta Cana.

Another American tourist, David Harrison, 45, of Maryland, had died at the same Hard Rock in July 2018 under similarly strange circumstances.

Just a month after Mr Wallace’s death in April, three others mysteriously perished in their rooms at another resort in the Caribbean nation.

Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, of Pennsylvania, collapsed and died in her room on May 25 after having a drink from her minibar at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville in La Romana, 113 kilometres west of Punta Cana.

Five days later, Edward Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, were found dead in their room at the neighbouring Grand Bahia Principe resort.

The recent spate of deaths has put the spotlight on what now appears to be a year-long pattern.

Mrs Smith said the recent wave of incidents on the island led her to speak out about her experience while travelling in the Dominican Republic.

“You feel this obligation to be honest but a fear of rejection if you are,” she said. “I didn’t tell my story, and I think it’s out of fear.

“It’s not a safe country, and it’s not just the five-star resorts

“I feel like I can’t sit here and listen to the Prime Minister say ‘Our country is safe’ because it’s not safe.”

Dominican authorities said either preliminary or final autopsies indicated the tourists all died of natural causes, and they were isolated incidents, but the families said they had doubts. Some have hired lawyers and planned additional autopsies and tests in the United States.

US officials have been restrained in their comments, only confirming deaths when asked by Fox News.

Nearly half of the roughly five million tourists who visit the Dominican Republic each year are from the United States, statistics have shown.


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