Jill St. Onge: U.S. Tourist Dies Mysteriously in Thailand (Photos, Video)
Jill St. Onge, 27, had been traveling throughout Southeast Asia for the past three months with Ryan Kells. The Seattle couple got engaged in Bali midway through their vacation, blogging about their travels along the way. They ended up at the Laleena guesthouse on Phi Phi Island in Thailand last weekend, where St. Onge died of a mysterious illness at 8:40 a.m. Sunday morning.
According to Kells, an employee of Avalon Glassworks, the couple dined with acquaintances on Saturday evening. St. Onge hadn't been feeling well and excused herself at midnight because her symptoms had worsened. Kells remained with their friends for a few more hours and then went back to the room to find her condition had deteriorated. He said, " She couldn't breath, she was vomiting".
Within 12 hours St. Onge was dead. Another tourist, a 22 year old Norwegian woman named Julie Michelle Bergheim, staying in an adjoining room of the bungalow, also died mysteriously at 1:30 a.m. Monday morning - see photo below.
An initial theory was food poisoning but Kells believes that the room they stayed in may be toxic. He admits that he wasn't feeling well either but hadn't spent as much time in the space as his fiancee. A 19 year old traveling companion of the dead Norwegian woman was also hospitalized, but is recovering.
Autopsies for the two women were conducted on Thursday at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok. The grieving fiance traveled back to the U.S. with St. Onge's ashes on Friday. He claims that the Thailand government has been trying to sweep the deaths 'under the rug' and their investigation has been virtually nonexistent.
Thai officials have told the family that it will be four to eight weeks before investigators are able to make a determination as to cause of death. St. Onge family members have obtained tissue samples that they have turned over to their own independent laboratory for analysis.
News source Phuketwan reports that three other deaths occurred at the resort a month ago. A 46 year old Norwegian man and two women died mysteriously. Their deaths are still unexplained and have not yet been linked to the latest deaths.
Jill St. Onge was a former bartender at Shadowland in West Seattle, where a makeshift memorial (photo below) has been set up to honor their departed employee and friend. Friends have also set up a website to share investigation news.
Check out that photo and others below and listen to Ryan Kells' video interview.