Injunction Issued Against Former Maintenance Workers Employed at Best Western Hotel During CO Deaths

Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm

By Jesse Wood

April 30, 2014. A Wake County judge issued a permanent injunction on April 22 against three former maintenance workers employed by Appalachian Hospitality Management (AHM), which operated the Best Western hotel in Boone at the time three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Room 225.

The injunction sought by plaintiffs, the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing Heating & Fire Sprinkler Contractors, prohibits defendants Charles Harold Robinson of Watauga County, Steve Thigpen of South Carolina, Rich Moses of Tennessee and AHM from “engaging in business as a plumbing, heating or fire sprinkler contractor and all other activities regulated by the [state board] at all such times as they are not properly licensed to do so.”

A scene of Best Western in Boone when the hotel was under control of authorities in June 2013. Photo by Ken Ketchie

A scene of Best Western in Boone when the hotel was under control of authorities in June 2013. Photo by Ken Ketchie

The state contractors board’s complaint alleges that the defendants installed the used, natural gas pool water heater without a license. The heater was housed beneath Room 225, where the deaths occurred.

A multi-agency investigation by local, state and federal authorities found that the deficient exhaust system for the pool water heater led to the three carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, both of Washington and in their early 70’s, in April 2013 and Jeffrey Williams, 11, of Rock Hill, S.C., and the permanent brain damage of Jeffrey’s 49-year-old mother Jeannie Williams in June 2013.

Findings of fact form the court order state:

  • “That the Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants have engaged in business as heating contractors in violation of G.S. 87-21. The Defendants deny this allegation but are willing to enter into this Consent Order.
  • That the Defendants admit that they are not now and never have been the holder of a valid license or certificate of renewal of license issued by the Plaintiff to engage in business as a heating contractor, and that any violation of statute was not intentional.
  • There is substantial evidence to support the conclusion that G.S. 87-21 has been violated even though the Defendants deny this allegation and the Court finds and concludes that such a violation has occurred.”

As the president of AHM at the time of the deaths, Damon Mallatere signed the consent order.

In January, Mallatere was charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths and a lesser charge for the harm inflicted upon Jeannie Williams. An administrative court hearing, which has been continued twice, for Mallatere is set for June. In February, Mallatere entered an initial plea of not guilty and posted a bond of $40,000.

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