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Two officials and Boone Fire Chief Jimmy Isaacs, right, document conditions outside of the Best
Western hotel in Boone around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Anna Oakes | Watauga Democrat

Originally published: 2013-06-12 12:54:13
Last modified: 2013-06-14 09:53:45

Feds, state officials join hotel probe

by Anna Oakes

Federal and state officials today joined local investigators in trying to determine what led to the deaths of three people in Boone Best Western hotel room 225 within two months. 

Investigators from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the N.C. State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors arrived in Boone and met with local fire officials and building inspectors at the hotel site Wednesday morning.

Boone Police have pointed to elevated carbon monoxide levels measured in the room June 8, the results of state toxicology tests from the April 16 deaths of an elderly couple and preliminary autopsy results in the June 8 death of an 11-year-old as evidence that leads them to believe all three died from carbon monoxide toxicity.

Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, 73 and 72, respectively, of Longview, Wash., both died in the room April 16, but local investigators initially concluded they died of natural causes. The investigation was still pending, however -- awaiting state toxicology results -- when authorities were called to the same hotel room June 8. There, 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill, S.C., was found dead and his mother, 49-year-old Jeannie Williams, was found injured.

Jeannie Williams was said to be in stable condition as of Monday.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is a federal agency "charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction," according to its website. 

"Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually," it said. "CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard."

The N.C. State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors is the licensing board for contractors in the plumbing, heating and fire sprinkler trades. The board is responsible for holding licensed contractors accountable for complying with state laws and codes.

CORRECTION: This story originally contained the wrong information that a birthday party with as many as 10 girls attending had been hosted in Room 225 on April 19. Recent police investigation has shown that this is not correct. The birthday party was hosted in Room 325 on April 19. This story has been updated to reflect this new information.