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3 Deaths That Could Have Been Prevented With A Carbon Monoxide Alarm.

An eleven year old boy from South Carolina and an elderly couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning in the same hotel room at the Best Western Hotel in Boone, NC two months apart.

On June 9th The Health Department Secretary Aldona Wos expressed her condolences to the families and loved ones of Shirley and Daryl Jenkins, and young Jeffrey Williams. She stated everybody’s feelings when she said that these deaths were a tragedy that should have never happened.

Seven days before 11-year old Jeffrey Williams died from CO exposure on June 8th, a source from the NC Department of Health and Human Services confirmed that Dr. Brent Hall, the pathologist in Boone who performed the autopsies on Daryl and Shirley Jenkins has resigned his post. It wasn't clear if Hall's resignation on Friday was related to the three deaths in Room 225 of the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza.  Documents show the NC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner discovered two weeks ago that carbon monoxide poisoning may have killed 72-year-old Shirley Mae Jenkins.

According to the official sources in Raleigh, the tests results were sent to the pathologist in Watauga County who was investigating the deaths. There is no answer why those results were not passed on to local fire or police investigators. It's also unclear if the Best Western was notified of the potential danger in room 225.

Tests have now also confirmed Jenkins husband Daryl also died from carbon monoxide poisoning. State medical officials say Jeffrey Williams, a preteen from Rock Hill had high levels of carbon monoxide in his system after he died in a hotel room in Boone. Officials say the levels of concentration are consistent with levels found in an elderly couple who died in the same room at the Best Western Hotel in Boone on April 16th. The results came back late Thursday, June 13th, from the State Medical Examiner's Office.

According to the results, 11-year-old Jeffery Williams had a blood concentration of carbon monoxide was greater than 60%. Medical officials noted that these CO levels would have caused the asphyxia. The autopsy report notes it as the cause of young Jeffrey’s death.

Officials have blamed a faulty pool heater for sending lethal levels of carbon monoxide into the room. North Carolina state and federal inspectors say they traced the source of a carbon monoxide leak to a pool water heater room directly under room 225, where Williams and the Jenkins died. Fire investigators say the ventilation system had corrosion and other deficiencies, so the exhaust was being pulled back into the room from a wall mounted vent for the room's HVAC unit.

Jeffrey’s body was found Saturday, June 8th. 49-year-old Jeannie Williams, Jeffrey’s mother was found unconscious in the hotel room. She was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. Her brother-in-law 

Darrell Williams said she is improving very slowly. Jeannie Williams can walk with a walker and is trying to regain complete use of her arms and legs, but there is still a long way to go in her recovery.

During the emergency medical response, preliminary tests exposed high levels of carbon monoxide in the room. The Best Western was evacuated and assistance was requested from North Carolina Emergency Management and the North Carolina Public Health Preparedness and Response Branch.

Daryl and Shirley Jenkins were visiting from Washington and were in Boone for a family reunion. Family members of say they waited weeks for test results to come back. The problem that caused their deaths could have been fixed if the tests hadn't taken so long.  The room 225 should have remained closed so no one could stay there, including the boy who died. The State Medical Examiner's office gave no response to the investigators who have been requesting the results for weeks.

According to documents from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the hotel’s pool permit was suspended on March 6. One of the reasons listed on the report was that the chemical/equipment room did not have natural cross ventilation or forced air ventilation. The report required the problem to be corrected as soon as possible. The pool permit has later been reinstalled, but the problem hasn’t been fixed.

Beth Lovette, the director of the Appalachian Regional Health District office said Tuesday when her inspectors looked at that pool room, but did not look at any appliances in the room and did not check about combustible or poisonous gases that may be coming from that equipment, because it was not the part of the duties of the inspector. She said they were only concerned about the pool chemicals.

The hotel was built in 2000 and the heater hasn't been inspected since that time. Officials say there is nothing that requires the heater to be inspected again, but state licensing experts and one from the consumer product safety commission are looking at it now. The report was dated March 6th , but the health officials could not say if the ventilation work was ever done, because they have not received any paperwork back from the hotel.

The hotel remains closed and under the control of investigators. The police are gathering information, records and also questioning employees from the Sleep Inn and the Country Inns & Suites in Boone since they are under the same management company and are owned by the same family.

Carbon monoxide detectors are not required in hotels in North Carolina. Everybody hopes that this tragedy will become a lever that will move the slow legislation process in North Carolina and other states where there is still no regulations for carbon monoxide alarms.