8-year-old girl 'violently sucked' into Houston hotel pool's unsecured gap, lawsuit reads

Lawyers say girl's death could have been avoided

ByDaniela Hurtado, Miya Shay KTRK logo
Tuesday, March 26, 2024
8-year-old girl 'violently sucked' into NW Houston hotel pool's unsecured gap, lawsuit reads
Houston authorities are investigating after Texas EquuSearch found an 8-year-old girl drowned at a hotel in Northwest Houston.

HOUSTON -- An 8-year-old girl reported missing over the weekend was found "wedged in the pipes of the malfunctioning pool equipment" at a northwest Houston hotel, a lawsuit filed by her mother claimed.

The child's family identified the victim pulled from the swimming pool at the DoubleTree by Hilton on U.S. 290 as Aliyah Lynette Jaico.

Lawyers for Aliyah's mother scheduled a news conference Tuesday to discuss their suit against Doubletree's parent company, Hilton, and the local operator of the hotel, Unique Crowne Hospitality.

They seek at least $1 million in damages on behalf of Aliyah's mother.

Read the full lawsuit:

During the news conference, lawyers said the girl's death could have been avoided.

Attorneys held a press conference Tuesday surrounding the death of an 8-year-old girl who drowned in a northwest Houston hotel pool.

"We are seeking justice for Aliyah because this could have been avoidable," the family's attorney, Richard Nava with Nava Law Group, said. "Everybody knows this could have been avoidable."

Nava said Jaico's 5-year-old sister and family were there that day, as well as other patrons.

"What we know what happened was, everybody was swimming together. Mom had stepped away for a moment - a brief moment," Nava said, emphasizing that Aliyah's mother did nothing wrong.

Nava claims Jaico was possibly trying to help her 5-year-old sister, who may have also been drowning by being pulled into the pipe, but he said they're working to confirm that.

"All the evidence is going to point to this hotel (running) an establishment with many violations," Nava said. "The pool was not in working order."

ABC Houston affiliate KTRK could not get a comment from the ownership group on the filing, but it confirmed the pool was temporarily closed.

A Hilton spokesperson provided a statement late Monday night:

Hilton offers our sincere condolences to the family and loved ones for the tragic loss of a young girl at the DoubleTree by Hilton Houston Brookhollow. This property is independently owned and operated by a third party. Hilton does not own, manage, or control the day-to-day operations of the property and does not employ any of the property's staff or its third-party operators.

We understand that the property is cooperating fully with all authorities investigating the incident. We ask that any further questions be directed to the hotel ownership's counsel at Trent & Taylor, L.L.P or the Houston Police Department.

In the lawsuit obtained by KTRK, Jaico's mother booked a room at the Doubletree to enjoy a day of swimming.

According to the lawsuit, Jaico disappeared in the lazy river before 5 p.m. on Saturday. After about an hour of searching, her mother reportedly called the police to report her missing.

Texas EquuSearch was eventually called to use specialized equipment to inspect the pipes.

Texas EquuSearch's founder, Tim Miller, said that investigators reviewed security video and saw Jaico enter the water, but she never came up.

Miller added that they attached cameras from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to the end of long poles and drained the pool so they could check the pipes.

It took the Houston Fire Department and the rest of the team about 13 hours to break through and recover her body.

In a graphic part of the lawsuit, attorneys wrote that Jaico was "violently sucked into a 12- to 16-inch unsecured open gap in the swimming pool flow system."

The pool was inspected on Monday.

According to officials, the new piping appeared to be malfunctioning because it was supposed to be pushing water out. Instead, it was pulling water in.

In addition, KTRK found the Houston Health Department's reports from Monday's inspection, which identified multiple violations.

"Main drain document was provided and still valid. However small pool has 32-inch channel drains on the walls, without a valid document stating their function, date of installation and date of expiration. A full inspection was conducted, multiple violations were observed. Video footage is available, however manager stated that the footage is being reviewed by legal, and we would have to wait to receive a copy," part of Monday's report read.

March 2024 report:

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June 2023 report:

September 2022 report:

September 2021 report: