Mystery cause of three deaths in a Best Western has been solved: carbon monoxide

By Amanda Horowitz ,
Over the past two months, three deaths have occurred in a North Carolina Best Western. Now, the source of the deaths has been revealed as poisonous gas, as authorities investigate.

After several deaths at a Best Western, the link may be carbon monoxide.

Two months ago, a Best Western tucked away in the Blue Ridge mountains of Boone, N.C. was the scene of two deaths, according to Time. The deaths were of an elderly couple, Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, from Longview, Washington. Now, investigations are ongoing as Jeffrey Lee Williams, 11 years old, was found dead this past Saturday, after staying in the same room in which the couple had stayed back in April. His mother, 49, was also hospitalized.

The two horrific incidents in the same room led to some serious questions about the upkeep of the Best Western. Though the couple died from carbon monoxide and the young boy from asphyxia - deprivation of oxygen to the lungs – the initial causes have been determined to be the same. Tests done on Saturday, after the discovery of the boy, revealed high amounts of poisonous gas in Room 225 of the hotel, according to CNN.

The cause of the gas is not yet known, but the infrastructure of the hotel suggests that Room 225 may have obtained these problems from being directly above a room with a natural gas heater for the hotel’s swimming pool.

According to The Charlotte Observer, there is a Watauga County Health Department report indicating deficiencies in this pool, failing to meet industry standards and proper ventilation of its chemical and equipment room.

Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford told reporters the hotel was closed Saturday for investigation and is under the control of officials. Additionally, examiners from the state board visited on Wednesday to oversee plumbing, heating and fire sprinkler contractors.

Paul Culpepper, an attorney retained by the hotel, issued a statement from the Best Western, Wednesday, saying that the "health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our number one priority. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those involved. We are cooperating fully with authorities who are investigating this truly tragic incident. The hotel will remain closed as we work closely with authorities to address any issues identified and authorities declare the hotel cleared for occupancy."

There is no evidence that any of the guests that stayed in Room 225 between the couple’s and the boy’s deaths have or have not suffered from the poisonous gas. Though North Carolina requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, there is no law for detectors to be present in hotels. The pressing question of police and guests still remains: Why wasn’t the gas issue looked into after the April deaths?

 
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