Houston agencies investigate man electrocuted in upscale hotel pool

The man was electrocuted while swimming with family members in an outdoor pool in Houston

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - The death of a guest at an upscale hotel in west Houston has prompted two separate city of Houston agencies to investigate the deadly incident and cite a local electrical contractor for hazardous wiring, Local 2 Investigates has learned.

Raul Hernandez, 27, died after he was electrocuted while swimming with family members at the Hilton Westchase outdoor pool, according to a preliminary report by Houston homicide investigators.

"At dusk, the pool lights came on and people in the pool began to complain of being shocked.  Hernandez swam to the deep end of the pool to help a child out of the pool.  He was able to get the child out of the pool, but could not pull himself out," the report read.

Hernandez later died at the hospital.

Since the August 31 incident, Local 2 Investigates has learned a City of Houston Public Works inspector has leveled a civil violation against Charles L. Brown, 50, owner of Brown Electrical Inc. of northwest Houston.

On a citation, an inspector cites Brown with failure to obtain proper permitting, concealing an electrical system that was not inspected and approved, and using an electrical system which constitutes a hazard to safety, health and public welfare.

Local 2 Investigates visited the Brown Electric Inc. office at 4544 South Pinemont where Brown declined to answer questions about the incident. He did supply us with the number of his lawyer, who did not return a phone call on Wednesday.

Brown does not appear to have personally performed the work at the Hilton Westchase. Four other licensed electricians names appear on Brown Electric work order slips for a $10,100 Hilton Westchase wiring contract covering the pool area.

Notes from a city inspector point out the lack of a GFI circuit or Ground Fault Interrupter, which is required by law to be used in pool areas, according to a master electrician Local 2 interviewed.

Hernandez's family is slated to file a civil lawsuit as early as Wednesday against the hotel and electrical contractor, Local 2 has learned.

Erin Vogt, spokesperson for the Hilton Westchase, sent a response to Local 2 via email:

"The Hilton Houston Westchase prioritizes guest safety and is cooperating with the proper authorities. As this incident is an ongoing investigation, any inquiries should be directed to the Houston Police Department. We are keeping the Hernandez family in our thoughts during this time."

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