Pool heater linked to Boone hotel deaths was installed without permit

goff@charlotteobserver.comJune 17, 2013 

— The pool heater that leaked carbon monoxide and killed three people at a Boone hotel was installed without the knowledge of the town’s inspection department, a city inspector said Monday.

Todd Miller, an inspector for the Boone Planning and Inspections Department, said Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza representatives never told the city about the new heater or applied for a permit, which is required under the state building code.

“The pool heater that we found installed had been manufactured in 2006, and we have no record of Best Western applying for or receiving a permit to change that heater out,” Miller said.

Miller said the town would have issued a permit only to someone with the proper contractor licenses.

Last week, officials with the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinklers investigated the hotel, which was built in 2000, and found problems with the heater’s installation.

“I can’t go into specifics since it’s an active investigation,” said Dale Dawson, the board’s executive director.

Carbon monoxide poisoning killed Daryl Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Jenkins, 72, on April 16. The Washington state couple was staying in Room 225, directly over the pool’s maintenance room.

On June 8, the gas killed 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams of Rock Hill, who was staying with his mother in the same room.

Funeral services for Jeffrey Williams were held Sunday.

Jeannie Williams was found unconscious and was recently discharged from the hospital.

Todd Sommers, spokesman for Best Western International, said it’s up to each franchise to follow, federal, state and local procedures. Each is individually owned and operated, he said.

The Best Western is owned by AJD Investments, according to a 2012 county health inspection report and is operated by Appalachian Hospitality Management.

Calls to the management group’s attorney were not returned on Monday.

Dr. Brent Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner who investigated the deaths, resigned Friday after the medical examiner’s office said they sent Hall the toxicology report for Shirley Jenkins on June 1, a week before Jeffrey died.

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