A local ABC affiliate in Honolulu, HI, reported yesterday on the accidental death of Bill Stock, a guest at a Hilton Lagoon hotel.
The reported cause?
Drain entrapment, which occurred in the hotel’s lagoon pool, which appears to be in violation of the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act. I recently blogged about the dangers of non-VGB compliant drains and the harm that they could ultimately cause – from disembowelment to death – and, unfortunately, we have here yet another tragic example. We know of at least thirteen reported cases of drain entrapment since the VGB Act when into effect in December 2008.
Stock, while paralyzed from the waist down, was an avid and strong swimmer. He was “training in the lagoon on July 30 when his left foot was held by suction against a drainage grate,” the ABC affiliate reports:
"There were three people there instantaneously to help him free his leg and they could not do it," said family attorney Mark Davis. "It’s very hard. I cannot even imagine what he was thinking when he was drowning."
Video was shot by investigators the day after the incident. It shows water being pulled into the flat grates. The suction was strong enough to hold a fish immobile.
Attorneys said the flat grate is also a violation of federal safety laws enacted while Hilton was renovating the Lagoon.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the federal body which oversees laws like Virginia Graeme Baker, has recently begun ramping up their efforts at ensuring the efficacy of VGB, and this tragic death provides, unfortunately, a perfect example of why this law exists in the first place.
Public pool and spa owners must take a lesson from this horrific event. Unfortuantely, the need to upgrade to a VGB-compliant drain cover or drain system has never been clearer.