Carbon Monoxide Blamed for North Carolina Hotel Deaths

Investigators have determined that three mysterious deaths in a Boone, North Carolina hotel room earlier this year were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.  

The exposures occurred in room 225 of the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza hotel. In April, Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, were discovered dead in that hotel room, but their cause of death was unknown until this weekend, when the third death occurred.

The third victim was Jeffrey Lee Williams, 11, who died on Saturday. His mother, Jeannie Williams, 49, also fell ill with side effects of carbon monoxide exposure.

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Boone Police reported that an autopsy on Williams revealed that he had died of asphyxiation, which they traced back to carbon monoxide poisoning. Investigators then went back and checked the Jenkins’ bodies, and found that they had also died of carbon monoxide exposure. The autopsies done at their time of death had been incomplete.

The hotel has been closed as the investigation continues. So far, the source of the carbon monoxide gas remains a mystery. Hotel officials say they are cooperating with authorities.

Jeannie Williams was hospitalized and in stable condition as of Monday.

Carbon monoxide is a significantly toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and lacks any sort of irritating factor that could allow someone to detect its presence. Because people often fail to promptly recognize symptoms of carbon monoxide, they are the leading cause of fatal poisonings in the United States.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide poisoning kills about 500 people in the U.S. annually, and is linked to about 15,000 emergency room visits. In many cases, the injuries or deaths could have been prevented by the use of carbon monoxide detectors and proper maintenance of heating systems and generators.

Although it is widely recognized that carbon monoxide alarms in places where people sleep are critical for saving lives and reducing the risk of severe injury, many hotels still do not have carbon monoxide alarms installed.


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