Family seriously ill after possible pesticide poisoning at Caribbean resort

The Department of Justice is investigating a hotel after a Delaware family became seriously ill while vacationing at a luxury resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Steve Esmond, his wife Theresa Devine and their two teenage sons were staying in a villa at the Sirenusa Resort in St. John, but their vacation was cut short when they found Esmond unconscious in their hotel room.

Two weeks later, Devine and their sons suffered seizures. CNN reports Devine was eventually released from the hospital but the teens are in critical condition in a coma and Esmond is conscious but unable to move or talk.

Investigators believe the toxic pesticide ethyl bromide is to blame. The pesticide was banned for indoor residential use in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.An EPA official told ABC, “It can really damage your nervous system. It can cause long term and short term neurological problems. It can cause brain damage.”

The company that rents the villa at the resort says the pest control company Terminix fumigated the lower unit on March 18, during the family’s stay.

Terminix has halted all fumigation in the Virgin Islands as part of the ongoing investigation and the company says it is committed to full cooperation with the authorities investigating the matter.

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