Woman says she warned hotel that people were getting sick

Published: Jun. 14, 2013 at 2:44 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2016 at 2:10 AM EDT
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BOONE, NC (WBTV) - A Watauga County woman says she and ten teenagers became ill in room 325 of the Best Western Plus Hotel in Boone during a slumber party for her 13 year old daughter and reported the troubles to the hotel staff.

Serene Solinski says the party happened on April 19th. It was three days after Shirley and Daryl Jenkins were overcome by carbon monoxide and died in the room just below where they stayed. Solinski says the hotel never warned her about what had happened in the room below.

"I am just shocked that they would put my family in such a dangerous situation." Solinski says the party had gone well in the pool area but after returning to the room about 7pm the teens all started to feel sick. "

They had headaches, terrible headaches," she said. Her daughter Levi said she felt like she had to lay down. "It was the worst headache I ever had."  By 9:30, Solinski says she started calling parents who came and picked up most of the kids.

Serene did stay overnight in the room with three of the teens but not before she and one of the mothers who came opened up a window.  Though Solinski claims it was carbon monoxide, fire investigators have not determined if carbon monoxide entered any room besides room 225 where the elderly couple and the 11 year old died.

Solinski says she has spoken with police investigators about the incident. Calls to the hotel attorney by WBTV news were not returned.  Solinski said after tests on Wednesday showed there were leaks of carbon monoxide into hotel it had her asking why detectors are not required in hotel rooms. "Detectors are cheap so why not?" Local fire officials agree.

"Carbon Monoxide detectors should be a priority," said Boone Fire Chief Jimmy Isaacs on Wednesday after announcing that leaks were found in the pool heater exhaust system. The law requires smoke detectors but not carbon monoxide detectors in hotel rooms.

It would take action by the general assembly in Raleigh to change those rules, said Isaacs. In addition to detectors, Isaacs and others are urging businesses and homeowners to keep their heating systems checked.

At Aldridge Mechanical Contractors in Boone, which designs and installs heating and air conditioning systems, Len Aldridge said it was important that people keep up with the maintenance on their systems. "

Leaks start with just a pinhole,"he said. "The hotter it gets, the wider it splits and that can put carbon monoxide into a home."  Checking systems yearly can prevent problems at home, he said.

As for the traveler? Fire officials suggest people take a carbon monoxide detector with them and place the unit as high as possible in the room they are staying.