Vittorio's Pizzeria

Marla Diamond/WCBS 880

LI Pizzeria Owner Becomes Latest American Tourist To Die In The Dominican Republic

June 24, 2019 - 9:19 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A retired Long Island pizzeria owner is the latest tourist to die while on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. Department of State confirmed that 56-year-old Vittorio Caruso died in the Caribbean country on June 17.

Caruso, a recently retired pizzeria owner from Glen Cove, has apparently become the 11th American tourist to die in nearly a year after or during a visit to the Dominican Republic.

The results of an autopsy are expected later Monday. Causes of death in other recent cases involving American citizens include heart attack and respiratory failure.

Caruso was found dead a week ago at the Boca Chica Resort in the Dominican Republic and his sister-in-law said he wasn't sick before leaving and had no existing health problems that the family knew of. 

Friends at the Round Swamp Road pizzeria Caruso had just sold remember him as a kind and generous man.

"He was always happy, always comforting," friend Bruce Hicks told CBS2. Hicks said the trip to the Dominican Republic was all Caruso talked about. "Every day he would talk about, 'Can't wait to leave,' and this is what happened."

"He always gave me free food if I was going there and it was a hot day, he gave me a bottle of water, a slice of pizza, never let me pay for anything. Very nice guy," friend Antonino Calendrella.

The FBI has sent over a team of investigators in response to media reports about these deaths and released the following statement:

"At the request of Dominican authorities, the FBI continues to assist with the ongoing local investigation, to include support with toxicology as well as the arrival of a small team of FBI personnel in the Dominican Republic. We refer you to the Dominican authorities for any further questions regarding their ongoing investigation."

Nearly 3 million U.S. tourists visit the Dominican Republic each year and its Ministry of Public Health calls the reporting media hysteria designed to hurt the popular tourism destination.