By Jesse Wood
Feb. 5, 2013. A family member and ranger with the Blue Ridge Parkway confirmed that Ashok Patel, the hotelier, who recently passed away, committed suicide in January with a handgun.
According to Ranger Dave Bauer of the Highlands District of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Patel’s body was found on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 9 p.m. on Jan. 9 near Milepost 281 at the Grandview Overlook.
“He was close to his vehicle. He was found over the embankment at Grandview,” Bauer said, adding that a handgun was found at the scene.
Justin Patel, Patel’s son confirmed his suicide. Though Patel was going through a difficult patch in life, Justin said that nobody foresaw his father taking his own life.
“Absolutely not,” Patel said, adding, “It’s been a hard few years to say the least.”
Patel’s death comes nearly one month after speaking before the Boone Town Council and blasting the town for its Unified Development Ordinance (UDO); its “pet-project” usage of the occupancy tax; and just the actions of town officials in general.
According to the letter he read to the Boone Town Council, the La Quinta Inn and Suites, Sleep Inn, Best Western, Country Inn and Suites, Super 8, Red Carpet Inn, Highland Hills Motel and Scottish Inn were family companies.
Like Justin said, the past few years have been tough on Patel. Bryson Cox drowned behind the Red Carpet Inn after a culvert, hidden due to a flood, sucked the 7-year-old boy into Kraut Creek in August 2010. The Town of Boone cited one of Patel’s family companies for creek erosion issues.
In spring 2011, the town condemned the Scottish Inn, which had an $850,000 mortgage. The condemnation affected the cash flow of his other hotel businesses because of loans on those other companies.
The financial problems snowballed from there. His family recently lost the Hampton Inn to the bank and was sued by Hampton Inn for $500,000 for liquidating damages regarding the franchise agreement.
All of this – the lawsuits and problems with the Town of Boone – took a toll on Patel, his son said.
“Obviously,” Justin Patel said in January. “But in the end, he never harbored bad feelings towards anyone.”
Speaking today, the younger Patel took a harder stance: “He was not really friends with Town of Boone. They didn’t do anything but hinder business at this point.”
Read a previous article about his death: