Family: Former Glen Cove pizzeria owner dies in the Dominican Republic

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GLEN COVE -

Family members say their relative is the latest American who died while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Vittorio Caruso is among nearly a dozen Americans to die in the popular vacation destination within recent months.

Caruso's sister-in-law, Lisa Maria Caruso, tells News 12 that Vittorio died on June 17. She says the family initially received a phone call saying he was sick. Minutes later, they received another phone call informing them that the 56-year-old had died.

Family members say they are having trouble getting straight answers from Dominican authorities, but they have learned that Caruso was in some sort of respiratory distress and may have had a heart attack.

Vittorio and his brother owned a popular pizza shop in Glen Cove for about 12 years.

Lisa Maria says they sold the business about a month ago and Vittorio was enjoying part of his retirement in the Dominican Republic. She says they spoke to him last week and he was fine.

Neighbors tell News 12 they are in shock.

"He was a sweetheart," says Levonne Pittman. "Very loving man, always said hi every morning, 'how's everyone doing?' We always went down the the restaurant. He was appeasing to me and my family. Nice man."

Caruso's sister-in-law tells News 12 they are working with the US Embassy and the FBI to get his body released.

She says they are expecting to receive the autopsy results on Monday.

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