U.S. mother sues Cancun resort in tainted-alcohol case

Abbey Conner, 20, was found face-down in pool shortly after vacation began

Paraiso del Mar in Cancun. Photo: Courtesy
Paraiso del Mar in Cancun. Photo: Courtesy

Nearly two years after the tragedy, the family of a Wisconsin woman who died at a Cancun resort has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Abbey Conner was only 20 when she died while on winter break with her family in January 2017.

She drowned at Paraiso del Mar just hours after arriving. She and her older brother, Austin, were found face down and unconscious in the pool after celebrating with tequila shots at the poolside bar.

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Both blacked out and then passed out. Austin recovered but Abbey was found unconscious in the resort pool. She was eventually declared brain dead.

“The last almost two years has been horrific,” her mother, Ginny McGowan, told a local news program at WISC-TV.

A U.S. Senate committee also opened an investigation into tainted alcohol served at resorts in Mexico.

The civil suit alleges that the Iberostar Resort and booking company “Visit Us” knew that tainted alcoholic was being served there.

A 2015 report from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service found that 43 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the nation — in and outside resorts — is illegally produced under unregulated circumstances resulting in potentially dangerous concoctions.

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Bootleg liquor could be infused with grain alcohol or dangerous concentrations of methanol, cheaper alternatives to producing ethanol.

Iberostar has repeatedly denied any of its alcohol has been tainted and said its supply chains are secure. The Connor family lawyer said the idea that Abbey and Austin were simply drunk is impossible.

McGowan wishes she and her family hadn’t visited in the first place.

“I just miss talking to her and being with her at the end of the day,” McGowan said of Abbey. “It’s very difficult.”

Sources: WISC-TV, KHOU, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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