• Mom determined to protect others after her son died in Boone hotel

    By: Allison Latos

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, NC - Tracing the letters on her son Jeffrey's gravestone is as close as Jeannie Williams can get to him.

    "As a mom who's lost a child, you never want people to forget their name," she said.  "It can get overwhelming when you start thinking about what you're missing, what I'm missing, what we're missing, what the world is missing."

    Jeffrey would have been a sophomore.

    His bright life ended tragically in 2013 at a Best Western hotel in Boone.

    Carbon monoxide from a pool heater leaked into the room, killing Jeffrey, 11, and sickening Jeannie.

    Only six weeks earlier, Daryl and Shirley Jenkins had died in the same room from the odorless, poisonous gas.

    Since their tragic deaths, Jeannie has pushed for justice. She told Channel 9 her civil lawsuit against the parties involved was about accountability.

    "Whether it is to hotels, gas companies, cities, inspections, fire departments, it was a wake-up call for them to realize this is a danger, this is an issue, don't take it lightly," she said.

    The civil lawsuit was settled in January for $12 million. Jeannie said the case was never about money but it was about a mission.

    RELATED: $12M settlement reached in boy's carbon monoxide poisoning death at Boone hotel

    The foundation named after Jeffrey aims to save lives by putting carbon monoxide detectors in thousands of homes and in the hands of hundreds of first responders.

    Matthews Fire and EMS Chief Rob Kinniburgh showed Eyewitness News the mobile monitors his department received through the foundation. Matthews firefighters carry them on every call.

    "The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic other medical issues. A lot of times we may think it's the flu or dehydration," said Kinniburgh.  "If we didn't have the monitoring device, we wouldn't know exactly we we're dealing with."

    Jeannie said every time she travels now she brings her own carbon monoxide detector.

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 16 states require them in hotels and motels. That is a statistic Jeannie wants to change.

    There's not a minute she doesn't miss her son.  She carries Jeffrey's memory with her every day.

    "You just have a constant little emptiness that's there," she said. "but I also have hope that I will see him again."

    She is pushing through her pain by protecting other families. Jeannie hopes to get attention of federal lawmakers to require carbon monoxide detectors at hotels nationwide.

    Jeffrey's foundation also plans to honor his life by collecting children's books because he loved to read.

    Channel 9 asked Jeannie about her personal health after the carbon monoxide exposure. She lives with some side effects and fatigue but sees her doctor regularly.

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