On April 16, 2013; Daryl and Shirley Jenkins of Longview, Washington died while staying at the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza in Boone, North Carolina. Less than two months later, on June 8, 11-year-old Jeffrey Williams of Rock Hill, South Carolina was found dead in the same room where the Jenkinses stayed. Soon after Jeffrey died, it was confirmed that all three people died from ingesting lethal doses of carbon monoxide. It has since emerged that a month after the Jenkinses died, 10 girls attending a sleepover party were horribly sickened from symptoms consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.
On June 17, it was confirmed that the source of the carbon monoxide leak was an improperly installed indoor pool heater located one floor below the room where Jeffrey and the Jenkinses died. It was also revealed that Appalachian Property Management, the company which manages the hotel and four others in the Boone area, had never gotten a permit to install the heater. Only a month before the Jenkinses died, a Watauga County health inspector found serious deficiencies in the heater that he said needed to be fixed immediately. Specifically, the heater's pump was not up to industry standards, and the chemical and equipment room was improperly ventilated. Evidently said fixes never occurred, because a state inspection after Jeffrey's death revealed the heater had been improperly installed.
Bailey has stated that while Appalachian Property Management will almost certainly be cited for violations, it will likely be allowed to reopen the Best Western after making required repairs. It is inconceivable that it is even remotely possible for this hotel to be allowed to ever open again under its current management given what has happened. Based on what is known, this company has demonstrated gross and borderline criminal disregard for the health and safety of its guests and employees. Any hotel operator that would allow a source of carbon monoxide to remain unrepaired for this long is a clear and present danger to the traveling public. For these reasons, the five hotels operated by Appalachian Property Management must be closed immediately, and not allowed to reopen under their present management. Furthermore, this company must never be allowed to operate hotels in the area again.
- Director of Planning and Inspections, Town of Boone
In response to the carbon monoxide poisoning deaths at the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza, you have stated that it will likely be allowed to reopen if repairs are made to the indoor pool heater responsible for the leak.
This is not acceptable. According to published reports, Appalachian Property Management never got a permit to install the heater, and had been alerted to serious deficiencies in the heater as early as March--one month before the Jenkinses died. Despite being told that these deficiencies needed to be addressed immediately, such fixes never occurred.
For the safety of the traveling public and the employees, the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza must never be allowed to reopen under its current management, and the four other hotels managed by this company must be closed as well until a new management company takes them on. Any company that allows the source of a carbon monoxide leak to go unfixed for this long is a clear and present danger to anyone who stays there.
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