Wisconsin family chat after daughter’s death at Mexico City resort


Mexico is a popular destination for Chicagoans, especially during the winter months.

But there are growing concerns about tainted, cheap and unregulated alcohol at all-inclusive resorts.

A family in Wisconsin who lost their 20-year-old daughter talks about their tragic journey.

“You’ve been protecting your child from so many things since birth, and then, you know, something happens in an instant,” said Ginny McGowan, mother of 20-year-old Abbey Connor.

The family are at the center of a battle for answers, desperately trying to find out how their daughter ended up floating face down in a swimming pool, breaking her collarbone and slipping into a coma just two hours after their Mexican vacation in a five-star complex, die later.

“Probably the most excited person was Abbey,” McGowan said.

McGowan and Connor’s stepfather John has booked the Iberostar Paraiso resort in Playa Del Carmen.

“We just sat on chairs by the pool,” McGowan said. “And we’re like, we’re going to go upstairs and get ready for dinner. You have to meet us in the lobby at 7:30.”

Connor and his 23-year-old brother Austin stayed by the pool.

“We swam around a bit and decided to celebrate with a drink. So we go up to the bar,” said Austin Connor. “And another group that was already there, starts talking.”

Austin Connor said they didn’t know the other group.

“The bartender pours a line of shots, and I take one. And everyone’s doing it, and the last thing I remember was like, we’re right now, sitting here talking and the lights going on. are off. And I woke up in the ambulance, “said Austin Connor. “Like I said, I felt very normal.”

The family say a guest found Abbey and Austin floating face down in the waist-deep pool, and soon they were on their way to the hospital. But the McGowans had no idea.

“It was almost 8 pm,” said Ginny McGowan. “I’m starting to worry.

She said she called their room; she couldn’t contact them any other way.

“And she said, ‘Is your husband here with you? And I’m like, well yeah, he’s setting right over there. And then she went to get the GM and quickly brought me over to John, explained to me that there had been an accident, ”said Ginny McGowan.

Abbey Connor was brain dead. Austin suffered a concussion and a golf ball-sized lump on his head. Abbey Connor was airlifted to a hospital in Florida where she later died.

“She was on the right track, a right track for her, and she was happy,” said Ginny McGowan.

Their blood alcohol level that day was 0.25, three times the legal limit in their home state of Wisconsin. Austin Connor says he can’t remember the number of hits he received.

“I thought about it, and I mean, it’s a possibility,” Austin said, wondering if they could have drunk too much. “How, if we’re in a group of people, do two people at the same time pass out in the pool and no one sees it?” “

The family wonder if the tainted alcohol – a toxic mix of cheap ingredients – could be in part to blame. Other families have since come forward, remembering how they suddenly passed out after a few drinks while visiting resorts in Mexico.

Mexican authorities said they had seized 1.4 million gallons of tainted alcohol from Mexican businesses, including resorts, clubs, bars, warehouses and manufacturers over the past seven years. In one of the largest seizures in 2015, 260,000 gallons were removed from a warehouse in a single day.

The Iberostar resort denies serving tainted alcohol, telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “We only purchase sealed bottles that meet all standards required by designated regulatory authorities… we are deeply saddened by this incident and reiterate our most sincere condolences to the family. . “

Now the family has hired a lawyer and plans to sue the complex.

“We need the hotel to allow the police and our investigators to access the employees who were there,” said family lawyer Florentino Aramirez. “They did not respond to any of our requests.”

“I hope she hasn’t suffered at all. And I hope she’s at peace. We miss you,” said Ginny McGowan.

“I would almost like to say thank you for being there for me so far, and I wouldn’t do it without you. So. Thank you and I love you,” said Austin Connor.

The US State Department added a tainted alcohol warning to its travel to Mexico page:

“Alcohol: There have been claims that consuming tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or fainting. If you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation and to stop and see a doctor if you start to feel unwell. ”

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