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Man dies after rescuing child from hotel swimming pool

Friday, September 13, 2013

We're learning more about a man's mysterious death at a hotel pool. Police now say eyewitnesses who were in the water felt electric shocks around the time he died.

It happened last month at the Hilton Houston Westchase. The medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of Raul Hernandez's death. As they prepare to bury their son, his family is waiting for answers, and now they've retained an attorney.

Investigators found that Hernandez, 27, died after receiving an apparent electric shock in the hotel pool. Witnesses tell investigators he saved his 10-year-old brother and his mother, after they and other guests felt what they believed to be a series of shocks and could not swim. Police say Hernandez went into cardiac arrest and later died.

Electrician Arthur Warren used to work at the hotel two years ago. He said this kind of incident can occur if something called a ground fault circuit interrupter is not installed.

"If a ground fault circuit interrupter is not in place to protect the circuit, the people who are in the pool will become electrocuted from the voltage around them, and then they end up drowning," Warren said.

Houston public works code enforcement records show contractors who worked on the pool did not get a permit or an inspection before the pool was open to the public. However, police have not stated that the pool played a role in Hernandez's death.

The young man was attending the University of Houston Downtown, where he was a member of the powerlifting team.

Hilton hotels declined to discuss his death, but released a statement: "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."

An inspector from the health department could be seen at the pool on Friday. Health department records show the pool was shut down by the city in 2011 and 2012 for a variety of violations. The 2012 violations included "operating a facility without a permit." The facility had three violations this past march, which were not electrical in nature.

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