Two young female teachers suffer mysterious and agonizing deaths two days apart after ‘being poisoned while on holiday in Vietnam’
By SHARI MILLER
Two friends who went backpacking across Vietnam collapsed and died within days of one another from a mystery poison.
Canadian-born Cathy Huynh, 26, who taught English in South Korea, decided to take a week-long break with her friend and fellow teacher Karin Joy Bowerman, 27, from the United States.
While sharing a room at a guesthouse in the coastal city of Nha Trang, Miss Bowerman fell ill and was taken to the Khanh Hoa Province General Hospital by her friend last Monday evening.
Sudden death: Teacher Karin Joy Bowerman, 27, from the United States, quickly deteriorated after being admitted to hospital
She did not have any apparent injuries, but was suffering from serious respiratory failure and her blood pressure had dropped to zero.
By 10.30pm that night, Miss Bowerman had died.
Two days later, Miss Huynh, who is of Vietnamese origin, was treated in the same hospital for symptoms of shock and while under intensive care, reportedly suffered several cardiac arrests.
She died in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Forensic official Pham Xuan Thong said authorities have not been able to determine the cause, but it was likely they had been poisoned. He said samples will be analysed at the National Forensic Examination Center in Hanoi.
Authorities are co-ordinating with the US and Canadian consulates in Ho Chi Minh City to investigate the case.
On August 4, local authorities in coordination with the US Consulate General in Vietnam completed a preliminary autopsy on Ms Bowerman but the results have not yet been announced.
According to Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre News, the family of Ms Bowerman, from Illinois, want to have their daughter cremated in Ho Chi Minh City and the ash sent home.
Tuoi Tre News reported that police investigating the mysterious deaths suggested the pair had died from drinking too much alcohol.
The unnamed forensic investigator from Khanh Hoa province’s police department told the newspaper he believed ‘drinking too much wine’ might have led to the women’s deaths.
The incident follows the recent deaths of two Canadian sisters in Thailand.
The bodies of Audrey and Noemi Belanger, aged 20 and 26, were found on June 15 by hotel staff on Phi Phi island in the Andaman Sea, 800 km south of Bangkok.
Forensic officials found vomit in the room, blood on their lips and gums and their fingernails and toenails were blue. Lieutenant colonel Rat Somboon of Krabi Provincial Police added there were ‘signs of serious food poisoning.’
Miss Huynh’s brother and mother have now flown out to Vietnam. The family has also set up a website to raise the £25,572 ($40,000) needed to fly Miss Huynh’s body back to Canada.
Beach destination: Nha Trang is well known for its pristine beaches and scuba diving and is fast becoming a popular destination for international tourists.