Deaths of Iowa family in Mexico vacation rental raises concerns about travel safety

An Iowa family's deadly nightmare abroad is now raising new questions about the safety of vacation rentals around the world.

The family of four traveled to Tulum Mexico earlier this month. Parents Kevin and Amy Sharp surprised their children - 12 year old Sterling and 7 year old Adrianna - with a beachfront vacation home they found online.

Days into their trip Mexican authorities reported finding the family of four dead inside that condo, "due to asphyxiation by inhalation of toxic gases."

The attorney general says there were "no signs of violence nor evidence to suggest disturbances inside the room".

"When they found them both kids looked like they were watching TV and the parents were in the bed watching TV so there was no foul play," said Jana Weland, Amy Sharp's cousin.

A state prosecutor in Mexico told local media that a gas leak in a water heater is suspected to have caused the deaths.

Travel experts warn the safety standards for home rentals are far different than hotels.

"If you're renting, the minute you get into that room, that apartment check the smoke alarm and the carbon monoxide detector and make sure they're working," advised travel columnist George Hobica.

The Sharp family rented their condo through the vacation home rental service VRBO. The company says they have since "removed the property from our site for any future bookings while we wait for more details."

The family's bodies are expected back in the United States on Wednesday. Their loved ones say they'll be planning one funeral.
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