By Jesse Wood
June 11, 2013. This afternoon, representatives of the Appalachian District Health Department held a press conference, which was described beforehand, to help “better understand the tragic incidents” that occurred in Room 225 at the Best Western in Boone, where three people died – and one person was hospitalized – from carbon monoxide toxicity in less than three months.
On March 6 – more than a month before a couple in their 70’s died together in that room and less than three months before an 11-year-old boy passed away in the same room – a Watauga County health inspector with the ADHD, noted that the “Chemical/Equipment room is required to have natural cross ventilation or forced air ventilation. This needs to be corrected ASAP. Consult inspector prior to making any installations.”
At the beginning of the brief press conference, which like Monday’s press conference with the chiefs of the Boone police and fire departments, was limited to a prepared statement and five follow-up questions. Jennifer Greene, a spokesperson for the ADHD, said the purpose of the press briefing was to “clarify our role” with regards to inspecting public swimming pools.
Beth Lovette, public health director of ADHD, said the violation in the March 6 report related to “ventilation of equipment rooms to provide worker safety only for handling pool chemicals in a semi-confined space.”
“Ventilation of any combustion gases from appliances is not part of the health department pool inspection,” Lovette said, adding that the issue with elevated carbon monoxide in the hotel room “falls under the N.C. Mechanical Code and is outside of the public health” department’s inspections of the hotel and the swimming pool.
Check back for more details of the press conference.