Family taking legal action vs. hotel
by Anna Oakes
"We will be and are pursuing a claim against the hotel," said attorney Mark Brumbaugh of Longview, Wash. "Whether or not that's going to involve litigation depends on the hotel's response to the claim." Brumbaugh said he has been in Boone this week and has had conversations with investigators.
Brumbaugh's comments came one day after investigators said preliminary findings indicate the source of fatal carbon monoxide levels in room 225 was a pool water heater located in the pool mechanical room underneath room 225. State toxicology results received this week confirmed the Jenkins couple, in their 70s, died from carbon monoxide toxicity April 16, police said.
Investigators believe carbon monoxide levels in the room also led to the death of 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill, S.C., on June 8. Preliminary autopsy results indicate the boy died from asphyxia. His mother, 49-year-old Jeannie Williams, was also injured. She was released from Watauga Medical Center earlier this week.
"The exhaust system for the pool water heater had multiple deficiencies," Boone Police Chief Dana Crawford said Wednesday. He said many theories have been confirmed but that the investigation must continue in efforts to find definitive answers. The chief said it is still early in the investigation, but "that potential is there" for criminal charges, and he said investigators have been in contact with the district attorney's office.
Attorney Paul Culpepper of Hickory is representing AJD Investments, the owner of the Best Western, and Appalachian Hospitality Management, which manages hotel operations. Culpepper shared a statement from the hotel.
"The health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our No. 1 priority," it said. "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."
An obituary for Jeffrey Williams states he was born in Pineville, N.C., on Nov. 28, 2001.
"He was a member of Northside Baptist Church and completed the fifth grade while home schooling," states the obituary. "He loved to read and was a memory master. He also played the violin."
He is survived by his parents, a sister, grandparents and other family. Services are scheduled for Sunday in Rock Hill, S.C.