Drowning victim's family sues Hilton Hawaiian Village

Bill Stock
Bill Stock
Mark Davis
Mark Davis
Witnesses say Stock became trapped when his leg got sucked into a drainage grate at the lagoon
Witnesses say Stock became trapped when his leg got sucked into a drainage grate at the lagoon

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The family of an Oahu man who drowned in Waikiki two months ago is suing the Hilton Hawaiian Village, saying the hotel failed to guard against a dangerous condition at its newly-rebuilt lagoon.

The incident happened at the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon. Jacob Stock says his father's death was preventable.

Jacob Stock, 22, says his father, Bill Stock, was physically active and a strong swimmer, even after a viral infection to his spinal cord in 2000 left him paralyzed from the waist down.

"My best friend," Jacob Stock said as he described his father. "He was always there for me, just completely loving."

He says his dad enjoyed swimming at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon as part of his physical therapy.

The family's attorney released underwater video of the lagoon taken the day after the 56-year-old drowned. Witnesses say Bill Stock became trapped underwater when his left leg got sucked into a drainage grate. It reportedly took three people to free him from the suction.

"My family and I are very devastated," the drowning victim's son said. "It's a shame that my father passed away in this sense."

The family's attorney says the hotel installed an extremely powerful water circulation system for the lagoon in 2006, but later failed to retrofit it with anti-entrapment devices as required by federal law.

In addition,

"The law requires that there be a shut-off switch and a reversing mechanism in the event it senses something caught in the drain," Mark Davis, plaintiff's attorney, said. "And the cut-off switch, as far as we understand, was located on the side of one of the buildings a long way away."

"We offer our sincere condolences to the Stock family at this difficult time. We cannot comment on pending litigation and have not seen the lawsuit," Hilton Hawaii said in a written statement.

"I want them to fix it and fix it now," Jacob Stock said.

The family's lawyer says Bill Stock wanted to help others with disabilities and, just prior to his death, was designing a motorized beach wheelchair, which he planned to market.