Inspection of carbon monoxide levels outside ‘scope of the Health Department,’ ADHD director said

Michael Bragg

UPDATE: Investigations determine source of elevated carbon monoxide levels

The elevated carbon monoxide levels that caused three deaths at a Best Western hotel were outside the jurisdiction of the Watauga Health Department’s inspections, said Beth Lovette, director of the  Appalachian District Health Department.

“That falls under the North Carolina Mechanical Code and is outside the scope of the Health Department,” Lovette said in a press conference Tuesday.

The health department inspected an indoor pool at Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza on March 6 and at that time noted a fault in ventilation.

“The violation noted relates to the ventilation of the equipment room to provide worker safety only for handling pool chemicals,” Lovette said in a prepared statement. “Ventilation of combustible gases from any appliances is not a part of the health department’s public pool inspections.”

The ventilation problem was considered a two-demerit violation, therefore the health department did not have to follow up on the case until the next inspection, said Michael Roberson, environmental health program specialist for the Watauga County Health Department.

Currently, the ventilation problem is fixed, Roberson said.

“The inspection report in the follow-up has been reviewed by state and local environmental health officials, and everything has been deemed to be in compliance with state laws and regulations at the time,” he said.

Police responded to an event Saturday in which Jeffrey Williams, an 11-year-old from Rock Hill, S.C., was found dead in room 225 of the Best Western. His mother, 49-year-old Jeannie Williams, was taken to Watauga Medical Center for injuries.

In April, an elderly couple also died while staying in room 225. Shirley Jenkins, 72, and Daryl Jenkins, 73, from Longview, Wash., were both found dead April 16, but the cause of their death was not immediately available to investigators due to inconclusiveness in autopsies.

The Appalachian will continue to provide updates as necessary.

Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Senior News Reporter