Mother of hotel electrocution victim speaks

Family of victim filed civil lawsuit against upscale hotel chain & electrical contractor

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

MISSOURI CITY, Texas - A Missouri City family filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against an upscale hotel chain and a Houston electrical contractor following the electrocution of man at west Houston hotel pool.

The man's death has also 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.

"I can't believe it. I can't believe what happened," said Carlos Hernandez, brother of the victim.

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.

"I don't want anyone else to suffer this pain. It's an immense pain losing my son," Maria Duran, Hernandez's mother said.

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 S. 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 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.

The Hilton Westchase sent an updated response to Local 2 via email, Wednesday:

"Our sympathies and thoughts are with the Hernandez family. The safety of guests, visitors and staff are our top priority and we are taking this incident seriously. We believe this was an isolated event, but we are cooperating fully with investigators to determine exactly what happened and to completely address any concerns. We will comment further once the investigation is complete," spokesperson, Erin Vogt, wrote.

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