GREENWOOD — The family of a New Palestine mother is demanding change after the mother was found dead at the Greenwood hotel she managed.
Dana Smith, 37, died Aug. 24 at the Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites, 1117 E Main St., in Greenwood.
Smith’s family says the hotel should be shut down.
Smith was the operations manager at the hotel.
“She was very happy-go-lucky,” said Smith’s sister, Kristine Auclerc. “She was always happy, always smiling.”
Dana Smith, a mother of two, had only been working at the hotel a few months when she was found dead in a hotel room, according to Auclerc, who lives in Kentucky.
“She was just the sweetest person,” said Auclerc. “She was so kindhearted. She was loving to everybody, accepting to everybody for who they were."
Smith died of an accidental overdose of amphetamine, methamphetamine and fentanyl, Johnson County Coroner Mike Pruitt said Wednesday.
“We went to the police department the next day to try to get answers, and they said it was under investigation,” said Auclerc.
Police calls to the hotel are on the rise.
GREENWOOD POLICE RESPONSE TO RED CARPET INN
- 2019—75 calls, 20 criminal offenses
- 2020- 109 calls, 14 criminal offenses
- 2021- 165 calls, 35 criminal offenses
- 2022 (1/1 to 9/8)- 119 calls, 31 criminal offenses
“The calls are mostly drug-related, but you also get robberies, fights, stabbings, shootings and overdoses,” Greenwood Police Department Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth said. “It’s been a nuisance for a while.”
Just last year, records show overdose deaths on April 23, April 26 and September 9.
Dana Smith’s family is calling on the City of Greenwood to take action.
"It is awful,” said Auclerc. “It's a black hole. Shut it down. Get rid of it."
The city ordinance currently says a hotel’s license can be put on probationary status if the calls for service ratio is at or above two calls per room a year.
The Red Carpet Inn and Fanta Suites has yet to hit that mark.
“It just hasn't hit that threshold on our ordinance where we can stop them from operating altogether,” said Fillenwarth.
WRTV Investigates asked the Greenwood Common Council what they’re doing about the issue, and President Mike Campbell agreed to speak with us.
WRTV: What do you say to people that say, just shut this place down?
Campbell: Legally, we can't. it's a private business.
WRTV: How long has the Red Carpet Inn been an issue?
Campbell: It seems like forever. It’s gotten worse over the past few years.
WRTV: Does the ordinance itself need to be changed?
Campbell: I think so. The only part of the ordinance that could be changed is the ratio. We could lower the ratio but then we run into the possibility of lawsuits. It could appear to be targeting, like we are picking on one hotel, and we just have to be very careful about that.
Campbell points out that even if a business meets the threshold for police calls, the city has to take additional steps before a license can be revoked including allowing the business to receive training.
Campbell: If it doesn't improve, the police chief could recommend that the license not be renewed and then that goes to the Board of Works who handles that process, and they have to hold a public hearing. It's more difficult than just saying you can't operate anymore.
WRTV: Do you agree that something needs to be done?
Campbell: Yes, yes. It is a continual problem. We do know something needs to be done.
WRTV Investigates did some checking and found the hotel is registered with the state under the name “Lodging & Trade LLC” and the general manager is listed as Ahmed Mubarak.
We reached out via email to set up an interview, but the hotel has not yet agreed to meet with us.
WRTV Investigates stopped by the hotel on April 20.
As we walked up, an employee met WRTV Investigates outside.
WRTV asked to speak with the general manager and left a business card with the employee, but she said no one would be speaking with WRTV.
As the family of Dana Smith grieves, city leaders say they do as well.
“It’s awful what happened,” said Campbell. “Our hearts go out to the family.”
Dana Smith’s sister hopes her death prompts meaningful change that will keep the community safe.
"If we weren't able to save her, maybe we can save someone else,” said Auclerc.
Greenwood police say they do what they can to protect the public by doing saturation patrols in and around the hotel.
“You can't do that aggressive patrolling every day,” Fillenwarth said. “Every time we do it we end up with a huge amount of guns, drugs and arrests for a night's worth of work."
HOTEL SAFETY TIPS
- Research the hotel before you book
- Know where the emergency exits are
- Lock up your valuables
- Don’t share your room number with anyone
- Leave the TV on in your room with do not disturb sign on
- Trust your gut