Electric Pool Shock Kills Father, Injures 5 Others

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A father is dead and his daughter hospitalized in critical condition after suffering electrocution in the family pool.


The incident occurred at a Palm Springs family party. Police officers and emergency personnel were called to a private home in the Indian Canyons neighborhood at about 4 p.m. on Easter Sunday. Upon arrival, they found relatives performing CPR on Jim Tramel, 43, and his daughter, 9.

Those who witnessed the accident state that Tramel jumped in after noticing his daughter was turning blue while swimming in the water. Five other victims of the electric shock described a “tingling feeling” while they were in the pool at the time of the pool death, with the cause of such electric shocks most likely being faulty pool wiring connected to the pool’s subsurface lighting system. Police believe that these other victims suffered less severe injuries due to their being further away from the suspected faulty equipment.

While the investigation in Tramel’s pool death are ongoing, those in the pool industry suspect a faulty ground-fault circuit interrupter – or GFCI – could be the root problem. This fast-acting circuit breaker is supposed to be installed in every swimming pool control panel. It is designed to immediately (within 1/30th of a second) to shut off all power to pool lights whenever the system detects an errant electrical current. Additionally, if this system fails, it fails in open condition and thereby sends power into the pool’s water instead of its grounding.

On the Wednesday following Tramel’s pool death, licensed pool contractor Stephen Little conducted 60 safety inspections throughout the same neighborhood. Every one of these pools failed to have a GFCI in compliance with safety regulations, with two lacking the critical device altogether.

Little recommends for all homeowners with pools to have their equipment inspected at minimum twice a year by a licensed pool contractor or electrician. This inspection should include a check of the full electrical system to ensure that wires are in like-new condition and that all connections are clean and snug.

While pool death cases relating to electric shocks are rare – the U.S. Consumer Products Safety commissions reported 14 such pool death cases between 2003 and 2014 – these are 100% preventable with precautionary safety measures.

In situations where a person poolside notices someone being shocked in the water, the Red Cross recommends using a fiberglass hook, another pool safety requirement, to safely reach out and pull the victim to safety.

If you have been injured due to negligence and are in need of a personal injury lawyer in Torrance or Los Angeles, please contact the Booth & Koskoff office nearest you for a free personal injury case evaluation.

Source: NBC Bay Area