TURLOCK, Calif. — A California man was one of four American tourists who died at a resort in the Dominican Republic in the last several months.
Bob Wallace, of Turlock, was in the island country to help celebrate the wedding of his stepson, Tommy Tickenoff.
Hospitalized and too sick to participate in the day's festivities, no one had a clue Wallace wouldn't be rejoining his family.
"We didn't find out until the next morning that he had passed, which is another weird thing,” Tickenhoff told KTXL. “My mom and brother had been in touch with the hospital and they didn't reach out and tell us any answers until the next morning."
The adventure-loving 67-year-old, who had just celebrated a 10th anniversary with his wife, had died.
“My 6-year-old and 3-year-old used to run in the house and jump on him on the couch and he'd wrestle with them for hours on end,” Tickenhoff said. “We miss him greatly."
Thirty members of the family took off for the Dominican Republic to be in place for Tickenoff’s wedding on April 14.
A bottle of scotch from the minibar in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana seems to be where Wallace's decline started.
"It was kind of really a quick turn of events after that that ended in his death,” Tickenoff told KTXL.
Thousands of miles from home, Wallace became the first of four American tourists and one of two staying at the Hard Rock Hotel to die while vacationing at Dominican resorts and possibly partaking of minibar liquor.
"We don't want to jump to conclusions, but it seems like the embassy, sounds like now the FBI, is involved," Tickenhoff said.
For a man who spent much of his life building Turlock apartments and condominiums through his business, Wallace Construction, the family Wallace built is intent on finding the truth.
“It's tough. I mean, you're in the process of grieving a family member and then all these other instances come out where it just kind of adds to the pain of not knowing what happened,” Wallace’s son-in-law said.
He said Dominican authorities told the family to expect Wallace's toxicology reports in eight to 10 weeks. If that timeline holds, they should be done by the end of June.
Wallace's loved ones are planning a private memorial for him on June 29.