Jeffrey Lee Williams and his mother Jeannie Williams were staying in hotel room 225 at the Best Western in Boone, North Carolina, this past weekend. On Saturday, the hotel staff was alerted by Jeannie’s husband that he could not reach his family and asked to go check on them. When they opened the door, first responders found the dead body of 11-year-old Jeffrey. Next to him was his mother Jeannie, who was still alive, but in a deep state of asphyxia. She was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, and as of today, Jeannie is listed in stable condition, still recovering at Watauga Medical Center.
On Monday afternoon, the Watauga County Health Department in charge with finding the cause of this incident advised that carbon monoxide was found in the hotel room where Jeffrey and his mother were staying this past weekend. Initially, the cause of death of the young boy was asphyxia, which leads to believe that something in the hotel room had caused his death.
Local news station WCNC-TV reports today that the hotel room in which the mother and son were staying was situated directly above the swimming pool of the hotel and the gas heater used to heat the water of the pool. The investigation is ongoing and further testings will be conducted in the next few days.
Back in April, an elderly couple, Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, from Longview, Washington, were also staying in hotel room 225, the same hotel room Jeannie Williams and her son stayed in. Their son, Doug Jenkins, had his last conversation with them on April 15 before 8 p.m. Their daughter sent them a text message later that night as well, but it was never read. The next day, the bodies of Daryl and Shirley were found in hotel room 225, they had died within two feet of each other, with no external evidence that could lead to the cause of their death.
The Jenkins family, through their attorney, is still investigating why their loved ones died night. The autopsy report was inconclusive, and the toxicology report seems to still be pending. While waiting, the family attorney sent a spoliation letter to the Best Western, asking them to keep the hotel room in the same condition as it was on the night of April 15, 2013. Best Western turned around, and chose to continue to have guests stay in hotel room 225 instead. The thoroughness of the Best Western’s investigation into the deaths of Daryl and Shirley Jenkins is unknown at this time, but one would conclude that the testing for carbon monoxide was never performed. Or at least, it was never performed until this past weekend, after little Jeffrey was found in the same hotel room 225, also dead.
Ira Leesfield & Thomas Scolaro of Leesfield Scolaro have represented dozens of victims of carbon monoxide poisoning in the last fifteen years. Ira Leesfield led the efforts that saw the adoption of Florida’s first carbon monoxide legislation which make it mandatory for all commercial buildings with boilers to have carbon monoxide detectors in every single unit. The push for that legislation came on the tail-end of a tragedy in Key West which saw the death of a young man while staying in a hotel. To read more about the story behind the passage of Florida’s carbon monoxide law, click here: Leesfield Scolaro Instrumental in Creating Law Requiring Carbon Monoxide Detector in Hotels
To read more about another tragic carbon monoxide related case, click here: Students Hospitalized for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in New York