Death of student at Mexico holiday resort linked to bootleg alcohol trade

Student, 20, had been drinking at bar found to be selling potentially dangerous alcohol

Fiona Keating
Saturday 19 August 2017 18:58
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Abbey Conner's life support was switched off on 12 January
Abbey Conner's life support was switched off on 12 January

The death of an American student who was found drowned at a five-star resort in Mexico may have been caused by illegal alcohol, authorities have said.

Abbey Conner, from Wisconsin, was found face down in a swimming pool at Iberostar Paraiso del Mar resort and fell into a coma from which she never regained consciousness.

Her life support was turned off on 12 January and her medical records stated there was a “lack of oxygen to the brain and cerebral inflammation.” She was declared dead after being flown back to Florida.

The 20-year-old public relations student had been drinking at the lobby bar in the Iberostar Paraiso Maya, a bar that has now been shut down by authorities for selling bootled alcohol.

Mexican authorities seized nearly 38,000 litres of potentially harmful alcohol and closed two bars in the tourist destinations of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

Ms Conner’s mother welcomed the news. “There is obviously stuff going on that needs to be cleaned up and looked into further,” she told Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel. “They need to investigate and interview employees. This makes sense. This needs to happen.”

At the lobby bar at Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, insanitary conditions were found by authorities including a lack of disinfectant as well as alcohol past its expiry date.

“We are continuing to work together with the secretary of tourism to ensure the health of the tourists in the region and the rest of the country,” Alvaro Perez Vega, the commissioner of sanitation said.

He added that visitor safety was a number one priority at Cancun and Riviera Maya which were the “most important tourist destinations in the country.”

The Conner family suspected that their daughter could have been drugged or consumed tainted alcohol but the hotel has strongly denied the claims.

The mother, brother and stepfather of Conner told Good Morning America that they are bringing a lawsuit against Iberostar Hotels and Resorts for failure to cooperate with their investigation.

The problem of counterfeit or illicit alcohol is being tackled by the Mexican government. A report by Euromonitor International found that around 36 per cent of alcohol consumed in the country was illegal.

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