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Wrongful death suit over Houston hotel pool electrocution tragedy

Over Labor Day weekend, a malfunctioning underwater light at the Hilton Houston Westchase hotel pool released electricity into the water while the pool was filled with swimmers. Several of those injured were members of a family who had gathered for a peaceful swim during a family get-together. A woman and her two sons, one 10 years old, were among those who suffered serious electrical shock injuries. Tragically, her older son died as a result.

The family has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit after finding evidence that negligence by both the hotel and an electrical contractor may have been responsible for the fatal accident. According to their lawsuit, the hotel had known for some time that there were electrical problems with the light, but at no point did hotel staff close the pool to ensure the guests were safe.

Worse, the electrical contractor the hotel brought in to fix the problem didn’t get a permit for the work, installed no safety equipment to prevent electrocution should the light continue to short out, and performed the repairs so shoddily that the family described it in their complaint as  "gross negligence of epic proportions."

According to the lawsuit, family members were about to leave the pool when the tragedy occurred. The 10-year-old boy began to swim toward his mother and then cried out in pain. His body convulsed as he floated helplessly next to the malfunctioning pool light, which had filled the water with electricity.

The desperate mother instinctively grabbed her son, only to be pulled into the out-of-control electrical circuit. Convulsing helplessly, she could only watch as her young son thrashed from the shock.

The other son threw himself into the water and raced to save them. Heroically, he forced himself through the pain of his own electrocution to hoist his brother up to two family members standing above, who were also jolted as they came in contact with the victims. He was incapacitated before he could do the same for his mother. A bystander helped pull the woman out and was able to revive her with CPR. By the time the older son was recovered, he was terribly injured. A week later, he died.

After the fatal accident, a city inspector cited the hotel for using a hazardous electrical system. The family is seeking compensation for their pain and losses, as well as exemplary damages against those responsible.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Family Sues Hilton Over Electrocution in Pool,” Bonnie Barron, Oct. 7, 2013

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