Twenty-year-old Abbey Conner died during a family vacation to Mexico in January, and her loved ones still don’t understand why.
Abbey and her older brother Austin, 22, were both found face-down in a pool at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, after arriving just a few hours earlier with their mother and stepfather from Wisconsin, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Abbey and Austin were both pulled from the water and rushed to a hospital, where Austin recovered. Abbey, on the other hand, was pronounced brain-dead after suffering what medical reports called an “anoxic brain injury.”
She was moved to a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and her family took her off life support a short while later on January 12.
The police in Mexico insisted Abbey suffered an “accidental drowning” on the night of the incident, but her family was never convinced — and now a report from the family attorney’s report only seems to confirm their suspicions.
“If it was an accident, where was everybody?” asks Florentino Ramirez, the U.S. attorney hired by Abbey’s mom and stepdad, Ginny and John McGowan. “It just doesn’t make sense. There are too many open ends.”
Ramirez detailed those open ends in his report, which found that local authorities only interviewed three hotel staffers in the wake of the incident, completely ignoring the bartender who served Abbey and Austin, or a woman who noticed Abbey and Austin acting strange while trying to exit the pool.
During a visit a few months after Abbey’s tragic death, an attorney working with Ramirez also claimed to have seen the bartender mixing “alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts” for the young people at the swim-up bar.
But perhaps most convincingly, Austin claimed that he and his sister weren’t trying to get drunk; in fact, they were supposed to be meeting their parents for dinner at the time they were found in the pool. Austin said they merely had a few shots of tequila and something that looked like a “Jagerbomb” before he blacked out. Austin had somehow hit his head, too, given the “golf-ball sized lump” on his forehead.
“I’ve been in college for five years and had my fair share of drinks before," Austin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "No way in hell I’m putting my face down in a pool and going to sleep.”
Abbey and Austin’s father, too, believes there was something fishy about the liquor they were served.
“Somebody had to slip them some type of drug,” said Bill Conner.
Ramirez believes someone may have tried to knock Austin out in order to rob or kidnap him or Abbey, though none of their belongings were stolen.
In any case, the Iberostar resort isn’t very forthcoming with new information, much to the McGowans’ frustrations.
“They did not seem to think this was serious,” according to Ginny McGowan.
This isn’t exactly the first time the Iberostar has served as the setting for suspicious activity. In 2015, a married couple drinking at the nearby Iberostar Paraiso Maya experienced something similar: The wife blacked out and woke up vomiting in her hotel room, and her husband broke his hand and couldn’t remember how.
Abbey’s family is still trying to piece together the events of that night in January, but her father, Bill Conner, is taking some comfort in the fact that 22-year-old Loumont Jack, from Florida, is alive thanks to an organ donation — a heart, specifically — from Abbey.
Conner even paid a visit to Jack in June, listening to his daughter’s heart through a stethoscope.
“Abbey is alive inside of him — it’s her heart having him stand up straight,” he told CBS News.
A representative for the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar was not immediately available for comment.