Medical Examiner Found Carbon Monoxide Danger Before Boy's Hotel Death

Watauga County Medical Examiner Dr. Brent Hall resigned on Friday.

June 17, 2013, 12:22 PM

June 17, 2013— -- A North Carolina county medical examiner has resigned in the wake of three carbon monoxide poisoning deaths that occurred in the same North Carolina hotel room nearly two months apart, officials said.

Watauga County medical examiner Dr. Brent Hall resigned from his state-appointed post Friday. The North Carolina Medical Examiner's office learned on June 1 that carbon monoxide might have killed an elderly woman in their Boone, N.C. hotel room, but failed to alert local authorities until after a young boy died in the same room one week later, according to a toxicology report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner obtained by ABC News.

Hotel Room Where 3 Died Had Carbon Monoxide Leak

A toxicology report dated June 1 by the Office of the State Medical Examiner showed lethal levels of carbon monoxide in the blood of Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72. She and her husband, Daryl Jenkins, 73, of Longview, Wash., were found dead at Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza on April 16.

Jeffrey Williams, 11, of Rock Hill, S.C., died in the same hotel room a week later. An autopsy revealed that he died of asphyxiation.

Following Jeffrey's death, police tested the room for carbon monoxide and ordered toxicology tests on the boy's body and on tissue samples from the elderly couple.

Hall, the Watauga County medical examiner, conducted toxicology tests on the Jenkins shortly after they died, but the results were inconclusive, officials said. He sent the case to the state Medical Examiner's office for further testing, and the state issued a report on June 1 that carbon monoxide poisoning might have killed Shirley Jenkins.

Jeffrey Williams died in the same room on June 8, and his mother was hospitalized.

It wasn't until June 10 that the Boone, N.C., police department issued a statement that said the state Medical Examiner had found lethal levels of carbon monoxide in Shirley and Daryl Jenkins' blood.

On June 14, a police statement said that Hall had determined that Jeffrey's concentration of carbon monoxide in his blood was greater than 60 percent. The boy's carbon monoxide concentration level matched that of both Shirley and Daryl Jenkins, the news release stated.

Elderly Couple and Boy Die in Same Hotel Room Months ApartNorth Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos called the three hotel deaths "a tragedy that should have never happened."

"My heartfelt condolences go out to the families and loved ones of Shirley and Daryl Jenkins, and young Jeffrey Williams," Wos said in a prepared statement. "The Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to gather the facts. I have instructed my staff to work with local officials to identify measures to ensure tragedies like this never happen again."

Boone Police Department Sgt. Shane Robbins told ABC News that he was unable to release information as a result of the ongoing criminal investigation.

While Hall has resigned from his state-appointed position, it is unclear if he is still practicing medicine. Calls to his private practice were not immediately returned.

The North Carolina Medical Examiner's office declined to comment to ABC News.

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