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Man killed by carbon monoxide leak at Corridor G hotel

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A swimming pool heater apparently caused a carbon monoxide leak that killed one man and critically injured another at a Corridor G hotel on Tuesday morning.

Officials were called to the Holiday Inn Express at Corridor G around 10 a.m. and arrived to find one man dead and another unresponsive, said Lt. G.E. Amburgey of the South Charleston Police Department. Both men were in their beds.

The men were part of a group of construction workers staying at the hotel. When they did not show up for a morning meeting, two other workers were sent to check on them. Those two workers were also overcome by the carbon monoxide.

On Tuesday evening, South Charleston police identified the dead man as William J. Moran, 44, of Rhode Island.

The critically injured man, who was not identified as of Tuesday evening, was taken to CAMC General Hospital; the two others were sent to Saint Francis Hospital.

Later Tuesday, eight other members of the construction crew complained of feeling ill, South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart said. Rinehart, who was not at the scene, said he understood the workers were taken to a hospital in a KRT bus.

Moran and his co-workers were on the hotel's fifth floor, but carbon monoxide levels were high in other parts of the hotel as well, authorities said.

Carbon monoxide readings at the hotel reached 500 and 600 parts per million, South Charleston Fire Chief Greg Petry said. Authorities said any reading over 30 parts per million is cause for concern.

Petry said officials initially were checking a motor that was above one of the floors but later ruled it out as a cause. On Tuesday evening, authorities said the leak had come from the pool heater.

Once the men were found, the hotel was evacuated and officials did a room-by-room check, Amburgey said. He said police do not suspect foul play in the incident.

Donald Harmon, of Phenix City, Ala., was staying on the fifth floor. Harmon, who had left the hotel at 7:30 a.m. and returned around 10:30 a.m., said he did not notice anything out of the ordinary and did not feel ill.

Brad Lansberry, 25, of Pittsburgh, was among a crew of American Electric Power employees staying in the hotel while they worked at a local power plant.

The workers left the hotel around 5:30 a.m. and returned to find emergency crews at the hotel. Lansberry said he didn't notice any odd odors while in the hotel.

"It's a shame that someone passed away," said Lansberry, who stayed on the third floor. "I feel pretty lucky that I wasn't on that floor."

His coworker, Bert Miller, stayed on the second floor. Miller also said he did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Under West Virginia's fire safety code, hotels are not required to have carbon monoxide detectors, said Tony Carrico, chief deputy at the state fire marshal's office.

Counties and municipalities can adopt carbon monoxide standards that are stricter than state law, but Kanawha County and South Charleston apparently have not done that, officials said.

The West Virginia Fire Commission is considering adopting the 2012 National Fire Protection Association fire code, which would require carbon monoxide detectors in new hotels, but not existing ones, Carrico said.

Carbon monoxide poisoning causes more than 200 deaths yearly in the United States, according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Between 1989 and 2004, there were 68 incidents of CO poisoning in US hotels, motels and resorts. Of those poisoned, 27 died, according to the study.

Carbon monoxide detectors have been required in many new and some existing homes in West Virginia since 1998, when two fifth-grade classes from Whitethorn Elementary in Bluefield fought for the law. Their teacher had nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is typically caused by improper ventilation of carbon-based fuels and by improper combustion, Carrico said.

Holiday Inn officials released a statement about the incident Tuesday afternoon.

"The Holiday Inn Express South Charleston holds the safety, comfort and well-being of its guests and employees as its top priority and concern," said Holiday Inn Express public relations manager Sarah-Ann Soffer. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest's family and friends during this time. The hotel will continue to cooperate fully with local authorities in their investigation." She directed further questions to South Charleston police.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.

 


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