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Here are some more disturbing findings coming out of the investigation of the Boone, N.C., hotel where three guests apparently succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning and died.

The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday that the Best Western hotel didn’t put in carbon monoxide detectors — as recommended by an instruction manual — when it installed a pool heater believed to have been the source of the lethal gas.

 http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/08/11/3100415/boone-hotel-heater-came-with-warnings.html

Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza, run by Appalachian Hospitality Management, had transferred that heater out of another hotel operated by the company, a Sleep Inn, in 2011, the Observer reported. The move of that heater, by the way, was done without any permit or inspection, which the newspaper said was an apparent violation of North Carolina’s building code.

Here is the rundown in this series of errors by the hotel and public officials that apparently led to three innocent victims losing their lives.

In April an elderly married couple, Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, died in room 225 of the Best Western. Despite the suspicious nature of their deaths, local fire officials never tested for carbon monoxide at the scene, according to the Observer.

The county medical examiner didn’t deign to come to the hotel room, nor did he ask for a toxicology test on Mrs. Jenkins to be expedited. That report ended up being sent to the ME a week before room 225 had claimed a third victim, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams. The report said that Mrs. Jenkins had deadly levels of CO in her blood.

Nonetheless room 225, located directly above the hotel pool, remained in use.  And Williams died. The ME has since resigned.

The Observer obtained a copy of the owner’s manual for the Jandy Lite 2 pool heater that the Best Western moved from the Sleep Inn. Its first page “strongly recommends” that carbon monoxide detectors be installed near the heater when it is used for an indoor pool, the paper reported.

The manual also warns that faulty installation of the heater can cause death or severe injury from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Observer.

And here’s another little twist in the case. The Best Western had a contractor convert fireplaces in the rooms that had them, which included 225, to natural gas. As part of that process, the contractor was supposed to install carbon monoxide detectors in rooms that had undergone the conversion. Instead, the contractor mistakenly put in alarms that detected combustible gas, the Observer said, not CO.

Needless to say, a carbon monoxide alarm in room 225 would have saved several lives.

Thankfully, the three victims have not died in vain. Last month the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that mandates that hotels put in CO detectors in enclosed spaces that have that a fossil-fuel-burning appliance, heater or fireplace, as well as in hotel rooms that share a floor, wall or ceiling with such spaces, the Observer reported.

That law goes into effect in October.

One person was killed and 16 suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning at a packing facility at a North Carolina farm Friday night, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20130804/NEWS/308040059/Toxic-fumes-blamed-Macon-farm-worker-death?nclick_check=1

EMTs arrived at Norton Creek Farms in Franklin, N.C., about 7 p.m. Friday, where they found two workers who were unresponsive. The two were discovered in a refrigerated house where fruits and vegetables are kept, the Citizen-Times reported.

One of those workers suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead at Angel Medical Center in Franklin, while the other worker was airlifted to Greenville Memorial Hospital, condition unknown.

Four witnesses who tried to help at the scene were overcome by the carbon monoxide, whose source is under investigation. In addition, 11 people from the Macon County Sheriff’s Department and local fire departments also got ill from their exposure to the lethal gas, according to the Citizen-Times.

Many of them were dizzy and vomiting, and they were taken to Angel Medical.

After the senseless deaths of three people, it looks like North Carolina will be passing legislation that would require hotels to put carbon monoxide detectors next to fuel-burning appliances, the Charlotte News & Observer reported Wednesday.

http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/07/10/3022424/nc-bill-require-co-detectors-in.html

The proposal has been added to a bill that was approved by a House committee this week, and comes on the heels of the news that several people died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning at a Best Western in Boone, N.C.

On April 16 an elderly couple, Daryl and Shirley Mae Jenkins, died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a leak in a pool heater when they were staying at the Best Western. On June 8, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams and his mother Jeannie stayed in the same room as the Jenkins, and they also suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. Williams died, and his mother is still trying to recovery from her injuries.

The proposed legislation would mandate that hotels install carbon monoxide detectors “in every enclosed space with a fossil-fuel burning heater, appliance of fireplace — and in every hotel room that shares a common wall, floor or ceiling with such spaces,” the News & Observer wrote.

The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association helped draw up the proposal, which would direct the state’s Building Code Council to adopt the new rules regarding the carbon monoxide alarms. The body is set to meet in early September.

North Carolina is one of 27 states that mandate that new homes have carbon monoxide detectors, but it doesn’t require lodging facilities to have them, according to the News & Observer.

It was heartening to read that some national chains take it upon themselves to install carbon monoxide detectors in their hotels. La Quinta Inns & Suites puts them in every area where there’s a pool with gas-fired equipment, while Marriott requires CO alarms “wherever fuel-burning equipment is located within a hotel,” the News & Observer wrote.

 

Police in North Carolina have broadened their investigation the deaths of  three guests of carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel, now looking at two additional hotels owned by the same company, according to WRAL.

http://www.wral.com/boone-hotel-carbon-monoxide-death-probe-continues/12634505/

Authorities in Boone, N.C., said that their probe of the April 16 deaths of Daryl Jenkins and his wife Shirley Mae, and the June 8 death of Jeffrey Williams, 11, will continue into July, the TV station reported. The three victims died after staying in the same room at the Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza. The hotel has been closed since Williams’ death.

AJD Investments owns the Best Western as well as the Sleep Inn and Country Inns & Suites in Boone, and all three hotels are managed by Appalachian Hospitality Management, WRAL reported.

Police are now collecting records from the Sleep Inn and Country Inns, and questioning employees at both establishments. That’s because all three hotels shared workers and equipment, according to WRAL.

Once police finish their investigation, they will submit their findings to the local district attorney to see if criminal charges should be brought.

Authorities blame a malfunctioning pool heater for releasing fatal doses of carbon monoxide at the Best Western. The Watauga County Medical Examiner has resigned over his handling, or alleged mishandling, of the three deaths at the hotel.

He didn’t look at the bodies of the three victims at the scene, and didn’t order expedited tests to confirm that the first two people, the elderly married couple, had died of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to WRAL. Then the hotel still rented out the room where they had died, leading to the death of Williams and injury to his mother, Jeannie Williams.

Because of the carbon monoxide she breathed in, and rendered her unconscious, the woman can only walk using a walker, and she is trying to get back the full use of her arms and legs, WRAL reported.