Health Dept.: Carbon Monoxide not our responsibility

Health Dept.: Carbon Monoxide not our responsibility

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by STUART WATSON / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 12 at 4:56 AM

BOONE, N.C. -- An administrator with the Watauga County Health Department says checking carbon monoxide levels in hotels is not their job.

Three people have died after staying in room 225 at the Best Western Plus in Boone. Authorities say carbon monoxide poisoning killed an elderly couple in mid-April, and carbon monoxide was found in that same room after an 11-year-old Rock Hill boy died there on Saturday.

The boy's mother was rushed to the hospital and is expected to fully recover after coming out of a medically-induced coma on Sunday.

(Click here to view photos from the scene)

A Watauga Health inspector ordered the Best Western Plus in Boone to fix ventilation problems "ASAP" on March 6, just weeks before the elderly couple died and months before the 11-year-old boy died in the same room.

NBC Charlotte has learned that the same health inspector who found the ventilation problem was on site and performed CPR on one of the first victims back in April. The health department says it was "serendipitous", as inspectors were at the Best Western Plus performing a different inspection.

Administrators with the Watauga County Health Department say their inspector never connected carbon monoxide to the ventilation problem. They continued that checking carbon monoxide levels and combustable gases are not part of their inspection process.

In this case, the health department's responsibility was to inspect the ventilation system of the pool chemicals housed in a storage room that shared space with the natural gas heater.

Room 225 is located directly above the storage room that housed the natural gas heater for the enclosed pool and pool chemicals.

Public records do not indicate if inspectors ever cleared the vent problem before three people died.

There is no record that the hotel fixed the problem.

Best Western corporate offices tell NBC Charlotte that the location is independently owned and operated.

Appalachian Hospitality Management operates the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Parkway. The hotel released the following statement on Monday:

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. We respectfully ask that any further questions be directed to the Boone Police Department or other governmental agencies that are investigating the matter.

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