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Front Page of Charlotte Observer’s Sunday Edition Features Two Stories on Ashok Patel, Best Western Deaths

By Jesse Wood

CNN reports live from the Best Western in Boone about the three deaths that occurred in Room 225 and were caused by carbon monoxide. Photo by Ken Ketchie
In June, CNN reported live from the Best Western in Boone. Photo by Ken Ketchie

July 15, 2013. On the front page of its latest Sunday edition, The Charlotte Observer published two stories related to the recent carbon monoxide deaths in Room 225 of the Best Western Plus in Boone.

The 1,700-word cover story, titled “Turmoil before tragedies,” explores the life and business dealings of Ashok Patel, whose company owns the hotel. Patel killed himself in January, months before the deaths. See excerpt below: 

In December, Ashok Patel, whose family had amassed a group of Boone hotels over three decades, took the podium at a town council meeting to criticize officials for zoning and stormwater issues that he said were ruining his business.

Among the family’s hotels in recent years, the Scottish Inn had been condemned over building code violations, the Hampton Inn had been seized by the bank, and the Red Carpet Inn had been the scene of an accident in which a 7-year-old boy died…

Read more here.

The other story, titled “Emails shed new light on deaths of couple,” features emails regarding the three carbon monoxide deaths that were obtained from Appalachian District Health Department. In the story, Boone Police Department Captain Andy LeBeau said firefighters assured police no evidence of poisonous gas existed when the first two deaths happened in April. Boone Fire Chief Jimmy Issacs said he didn’t recall fire officials assuring the police that no evidence existed. See excerpt below.

Health inspector Lori Durham burst into the Boone hotel room and saw one body lying on the floor and another in the hot tub.

“The woman was having CPR done on her,” Durham said, according to emails describing the events of April 16 at the Best Western.

“I jumped over the woman and got into the tub with the man and started doing chest compressions. … I felt no pulse, and he was cold to the touch.”

Read more here.

As of right now the Boone Police Department is finishing up its investigation and will relay its findings to the District Attorney.