Health

Members Of Delaware Family Poisoned On Caribbean Vacation Remain Paralyzed

| by Jared Keever

Three members of a Wilmington, Delaware, family who were poisoned by pesticide while on a Caribbean vacation remain paralyzed and are not expected to recover further, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp said during a June 30 news conference. 

“Unfortunately, I have to give some bad news. The family that were the victims of the poisoning at Sirenusa is not doing well,” Mapp said, reports the Virgin Islands Daily News. 

The four members of the Esmond family are believed to have been exposed to methyl bromide on March 18 while staying at the $800-a-night Sirenusa resort on St. John. 

All four members began experiencing seizures just days after the pesticide was used to fumigate a room near where they were staying, the family’s spokesman, attorney James J. Maron, told USA Today in March. 

They were airlifted to a Philadelphia hospital days after their exposure, reports the Daily Mail. 

Steve Esmond, 49, and his two sons — 16-year-old Sean and 14-year-old Ryan — remain paralyzed.

Ryan is reported to be paralyzed from the neck down, but conscious and aware of what happened. 

His brother, Sean, was described by Mapp as being “in and out of a coma” and unable to control his limbs or body. 

Steve Esmond suffers from severe paralysis and “must be strapped in to even sit,” Mapp said. 

“For all intents and purposes, the doctors do not expect any significant recovery from their present condition,” the governor said. 

Esmond’s wife, and mother of the boys, Dr. Theresa Devine, a dentist, is reported to have recovered better than the rest of her family but her exact condition is not clear. 

Methyl bromide is a pesticide, restricted in the United States, that the Environmental Protection Agency says can be fatal or cause serious central nervous system and respiratory system damage.

The EPA confirmed the pesticide had been applied inside units at the Sirenusa resort by a worker with Terminix International, USA Today reported. 

Terminix spokeswoman Mary Clare Jensen told USA Today in March the Tennessee-based company was “cooperating fully with local and federal officials to determine the cause of the incident reported in St. John.”

“At this time, we have limited details so we cannot comment further,” she said. 

Mapp said at his news conference that Terminix will be charged criminally. 

“The government of the Virgin Islands will seek full and unfettered recompense for its expenditures dealing with this issue,” Mapp said. “What Terminix International did is not a simple mistake. It's clearly an act to advance its profit motives by using substances that it knew, or should have known, were banned some 30 years ago.”

Although the Daily Mail reports the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into the incident, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Chisholm would not comment on whether an investigation was underway when she spoke to the Virgin Island Daily News.

"I did not hear what he said,” Chisholm said of the governor’s news conference. “I have no idea what the governor is talking about.”

It is unclear what, if any, restitution will be sought by the Esmond family. 

A statement from the family, quoted by the Daily Mail, said in part that family members are “confident that those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Sources: Virgin Islands Daily News, USA Today, Daily Mail

Photo Credit: Supplied via Daily Mail