Barbara Corcoran says her brother had an "existing heart condition" that may have led to his death in the Dominican Republic.
The Shark Tank star said in a statement that she is "overwhelmed with sadness" over the loss of her brother, John, and all of the others who have died in the Dominican in recent months.
She said he died in his hotel room in April. "He loved the DR and vacationed there frequently. My brother had an existing heart condition and we believe he died of natural causes, but you're still never ready for the death of a loved one," Corcoran wrote on Instagram on Thursday.
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"I'm overwhelmed with sadness for the lost lives in the DR and my thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones," the Dancing With the Stars alum continued. "Thank you for all your thoughts and good wishes. I appreciate your love and kindness."
Corcoran's assistant, Emily Burke, confirmed to Fox News that John, a retired New Jersey businessman, died in the Dominican. "John Corcoran passed away at the end of April in the DR from what is believed to be natural causes," she said. "He loved and frequently visited the Dominican Republic. Barbara would like to respect the privacy of his children and is not releasing any other information at this time."
Corcoran earlier told TMZ that her brother had gone to the Dominican Republic with a friend on what was his annual vacation. She said the friend, who was sharing the suite with her brother, found his body.
The U.S. State Department told Fox News: "We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in April 2019 in the Dominican Republic. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family for their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we do not have additional information to provide."
In April on National Sibling Day, Corcoran shared an old family photo, sharing that she and John were from a family with 10 children. "I'm 10 times blessed having grown up as 1 of 10 children," she wrote. "My mom taught us that every child had a special talent and we all had to pitch in if we're going to be a strong family. I later built a happy company 1,000 people strong on those two simple principals."
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Seven sudden deaths of tourists in the Dominican Republic recently have raised the concern many, but Tourism Minister Javier Garcia said the country is safe for travel.
"These cases are very regrettable, but isolated," he said in a statement. "Investigation into them is a top priority for us and for the National Police. We are asking them to deploy all resources to help provide answers as quickly as possible."
Teams of experts and inspectors from several international agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted tests last week at the Bahia Principe properties where some of the U.S. tourists died. It's unclear if they inspected other resorts.
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