Only two months after Daryl and Shirley Jenkins were found dead in their Boone, North Carolina hotel room, an 11-year-old boy has perished in the same room. His mother, Jeannie Williams, was found unconscious at his side. Investigators suspect carbon monoxide poisoning and are now exploring a possible link between the three deaths.
Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins, an elderly couple from Washington state, were visiting Boone for a family reunion in April when the couple was found dead in their Best Western hotel room. A cousin, Lorraine Stephens, told KLTV news "the cause of death was never clear."
On Saturday Jeannie and Jeffrey Williams, a mother and son from Rock Hill, SC, were found in the same hotel room, victims of what police believe to be carbon monoxide poisoning. 11-year-old Jeffrey perished at the scene while his mother, Jeannie, was found unconscious and in critical condition by his side.
Although the deaths are still under investigation and a clear link has not yet been determined, investigators at The Murray Law Firm are now questioning whether a lapse in hotel safety standards may have lead to these tragedies:
- When did the hotel last undergo a complete safety audit, including carbon monoxide testing and preparedness? Did the hotel perform a thorough safety investigation following the death of Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins and, if so, was carbon monoxide testing performed?
- What safety measures were in place at the time of both incidents to protect guests from carbon monoxide hazards? Were carbon monoxide alarms present and working in the hotel room and surrounding hallways where the deaths occurred and, if so, when were the alarms last inspected?
- How did the design of the hotel contribute to creating a carbon monoxide hazard for guests, particularly in the room where all three deaths occurred? Was the hotel room above or near a parking area, furnace, or boiler room where exhaust fumes could have been present? Was the hotel room properly ventilated and, if so, was something blocking the room's ventilation system at the time of the incidents?
According to a recent USA Today investigation, "Eight people have died and at least 170 others have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning in the past three years in hotels, which rarely are equipped with CO alarms."
As the details of these tragedies continue to unfold, The Murray Law Firm suggests that it is possible that the Boone, NC Best Western failed to undertake proper safety measures to protect those guests legally on the premises. By law, an owner and management company has a duty to protect such individuals from foreseeable risks and to keep its premises safe. If the owner or manager fails in this capacity, they may be held liable for any injuries or wrongful deaths that occur on the property.
Should the Boone, NC Best Western be found at fault in these incidents, the families of Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins and the young Mr. Williams May elect to hold the owner and management company liable for their wrongful deaths. Financial recovery for such claims could be in the millions of dollars and would, more importantly, send a gravely needed message to all hotel property managers on the need to implement proper safety measures to protect their guests. Further, such a claim would help to increase public awareness about the lack of CO safety and testing within hotels.
As insurance companies and unscrupulous parties are often more concerned with limiting their financial exposure in these incidents, it is crucial that an experienced premises liability firm be retained as soon as possible to ensure all evidence, such as carbon monoxide alarms and the hotel ventilation system, is inspected and photographed prior to any repairs and that the families' best interests are protected. The Murray Law Firm has extensive experience in premises liability cases, such as this, and we offer our legal expertise, if needed.
If you are seeking further information on this incident, please contact us toll free at 888-842-1616.