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Originally published: 2013-06-12 17:23:27
Last modified: 2013-06-12 17:24:12

Our View: Reassurance is the first step

After two news conferences, four days of investigations and dozens of hours of research and truth-seeking, we know not nearly enough about the three deaths on two separate occasions that resulted from toxic levels of carbon monoxide in Room 225 at Boone's Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza. Questions abound.

The investigation into the deaths of an 11-year-old boy and a couple in their 70s is multilayered, tying together a private business and multiple public agencies, among them the police, fire and health departments, building inspectors and now, various state investigators. 

Questions linger for each of these agencies in this developing investigation. And the media, too, has a role in this situation, with questions of its own that must be addressed.

For some of our public departments, this is terrain not frequently trod. And because of that, first instincts may be to address issues of responsibility -- and we have seen evidence of this during news conferences on Monday and Tuesday.

There will be responsibility to own, and we certainly hope that if this investigation reveals that mistakes were made, those owners will accept their due. But today is not that time. 

Today, a worried public is counting on the leaders of our law and health departments to address first not culpability, but concerns about public health.

For in the end, it is those community concerns, not the laying of blame for blame's sake, that are important. Determining guilt does no good unless the purpose of that determination is to find a root cause that can be corrected.

Police officials have assured us that the public health is not at risk. But that statement, without the determination of cause, offers little reassurance to every traveler who tonight will lay his or her head -- or the heads of his or her children -- on a rented pillow.

We understand and appreciate the difficulty of these investigations. We understand that answers, so desperately needed, may take time. But unless each of the departments involved turns first to resolution, we are left with the conjecture that what is truly important is not the discovery of the cause of this health concern, but that the cause not rest with a particular agency.

This is not the right attitude or approach to reach the timely conclusion of these tragedies.

Given the extremely similar natures of the separate news conferences, it is apparent that our public departments are communicating with one another. We hope that communication now extends to a full spirit of cooperation that moves the investigation toward answers.

These deaths have had a tragic impact on our community.

People are emotionally and physically hurting.

People are scared.

People deserve law enforcement and health departments which will put aside any thoughts of partisan protection and work toward a solution that will help prevent such deaths from happening again.