Sirenusa Pesticide Poisoning Investigation Makes National News With CNN Report


The CNN story about the St. John pesticide poisoning featured aerial views of the Sirenusa condominium project and Cruz Bay.


CRUZ BAY —  “A trip to paradise turned nightmare.”

“A family of four now fighting for their lives.”

The negative publicity feared in the aftermath of the accidental poisoning of a vacationing Delaware family when a neighboring condominium in Cruz Bay was fumigated with a deadly pesticide was reignited on Saturday, April 4, when CNN aired a two-minute story on the aftermath of the tragic incident.

Two weeks after the Delaware family members were taken ill in their vacation condominium in the early hours of Friday, March 20, the two boys 14 and 16 remain “in comas in critical condition,” CNN reported in the short piece replete with dramatic promotional shots of the condominium project perched above Cruz Bay which aired several times.

The parents condition improved after the family, repeat visitors to St. John, was airlifted back to the states, and the mother, Dr. Theresa Devine, has been released from the hospital. The father Stephen Esmond, a private school teacher and administrator, is reportedly conscious but unable to talk. Their two teenage sons remain in induced comas.

EPA Opens Criminal Investigation
The U.S. Justice Department has now opened a criminal investigation into the incident, “working to determine what happened,” according to the CNN report.

Terminix issued a statement that the company was “ … looking into this matter internally and cooperating with authorities. We’re thinking about the family and we join the community in wishing them a speedy recovery.”

Stephen Esmond was found unconscious and the boys and their mother were having severe seizures when first responders reached the condominium in the early morning hours of Friday, March 20.

The family was transported to Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas on Friday morning and airlifted to Delaware early the following week.

Units Tested and Ventilated
Federal Environmental Protection Agency investigators tested and ventilated the upper and lower units of building J at the condominium project, which contains the Villa Capri condominium rented by the Esmond family, during the first week of April, according to EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez.

The results of the testing will be forwarded to the V.I. Department of Health, the EPA official said.

Meanwhile, air quality tests indicated that venting the air inside the residential units to the outside could begin and the venting began on Tuesday, March 31, according to the EPA’s

Rodriguez. EPA officials opened the windows or the units and circulated the air with exhaust fans, they said.

The ventilation is being done during the day because there are fewer residents around at that time, according to Rodriguez. The areas are marked off with caution tape and residents of a neighboring building are “urged” not to occupy their units between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., EPA officials added.