How Three People Died Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning In The Same Motel Room, Six Weeks Apart

Back in April, an elderly couple died while staying in a Best Western motel in North Carolina. The local medical examiner couldn’t find a clear cause of death. The motel continued renting the room to others until last week, when an 11-year-old boy died and his mother was rushed to the hospital. The cause? Carbon monoxide poisoning from the pool heater.

Here’s the galling part: while waiting for toxicology results, motel management just kept renting out the room to other guests. If management had done something wacky like hold off on renting that room until the results came back, maybe no one else would have died. The Charlotte Observer, hometown newspaper of the 11-year-old, reports that in other jurisdictions, blood tests for carbon monoxide poisoning come back in a matter of hours, not weeks.

The room in question happens to be right over the motel’s mechanical room. Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, deadly gas, seeped into the room through either the air conditioner or the gas fireplace vents. Officials believe that the gas came from the pool heater. Fire codes dictate that new houses built in North Carolina need carbon monoxide detectors, but they’re not required in motels. No staff from the medical examiner’s office visited the scene in April, and local emergency responders don’t carry equipment to detect carbon monoxide.

Blood test results would have showed that the elderly couple in April died of carbon monoxide poisoning. They were kicking off a three-week vacation, but died within hours of each other instead. The family didn’t believe that both parents, who were active and in good health, died of abrupt and simultaneous heart attacks. “Do you know how mad I am right now? Why are they still renting out this room?” their son asked reporters after learning about the child’s death in the same room.

If you happen to have stayed in Room 225 of the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza in Boone, N.C., please contact police at 828-268-6900.

Medical examiner did not visit hotel room where couple died [Charlotte Observer]