El Paso Resident Dead in Apparent Electric Shock Drowning Accident

Jimmy Doan, founder and managing partner at The Doan Law Firm, has announced that the firm has been retained by Mr. Robert Villanueva of El Paso, who was injured in a recent Electric Shock Drowning accident that claimed the life of Mr. Roy Stoltz, also of El Paso.

The Accident

According to KVIA-TV, on the evening of Thursday, June 27th Roy Charles Stoltz, Robert Villanueva, and a group of friends were swimming in a pool at the Hallmark Apartments in El Paso when the pool’s underwater lights came on, apparently activated by an automatic timer. Immediately after the lights came on, those in the water felt a strong “tingling” sensation through their skins that they recognized as an electric current and they began exiting the water. However, Stoltz was incapacitated by the electric current and was unable to swim to safety.

Members of the swim group were able to rescue the 50-year-old Stoltz and, with the assistance of other apartment complex residents, began CPR at poolside. Despite the efforts of the rescuers and first responders from El Paso Fire and EMS, Mr. Stoltz could not be revived and died at a local hospital.

What is “Electric Shock Drowning?”

Electric Shock Drowning occurs when an electric current “leaks” into a body of water, such as a swimming pool or a lake. The source of that current is usually a break in the insulation surrounding a submerged power line that supplies electric power to a device such as a swimming pool’s underwater lights.

In the presence of an electric current the body’s muscles, which normally contract and relax in response to weak electric currents produced by the nerves that control motion, go into a state of spasm. This makes them useless for activities such as swimming and the victim drowns as a result of loss of the ability to swim. Additionally, the proper function of the heart muscle can be affected and the victim becomes unconscious within a matter of seconds.

As we reported in a previous blog, “Electric Shock Drowning,” accidental drowning deaths due to “leakage” of an electric current into a body of water (in this case, a swimming pool) may be far more common than previously thought. In fact, the El Paso accident is reported to have exhibited three “classic” hallmarks of Electric Shock Drowning:

  • The drowning accident victim was known to have been a good swimmer but suddenly became incapacitated.
  • One or more swimmers reported feeling a “tingling” sensation when a potential source of electric current (the pool’s underwater lights) was known to have been active.
  • The “tingling” sensation disappeared as soon as the underwater electric lights were turned off.

Given the extensive flooding that has recently affected many parts of our country, as well as the arrival of “Hurricane Season,” we fear that the number of Electric Shock Drowning deaths will most likely increase in the coming months.


Although the “official” cause of Mr. Stoltz’s death, and Mr. Villanueva’s injury, have yet to be determined, we feel that the circumstances strongly suggest that an electric current “leaking” into the swimming pool’s water was probably responsible for both the death and the injury. This, of course, leads to the questions of 1) what caused the current to enter the water, 2) was that leak a result of a defect in the electrical wiring’s insulation or was that insulation damaged during its installation, and 3) who was responsible for insuring that the lighting system was safe to use for its intended purpose?

Finding the answers to these questions, and others, will be a complicated that is usually beyond the resources available to the typical accident victim or their family. In such cases, a thorough investigation should be entrusted to an experienced drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer who has access to experts in every field of science that may be relevant to reconstructing what led to an accident. One such lawyer is the drowning accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national law practice with offices located throughout the country.

When you contact our firm to arrange a review of the facts in your drowning accident case, your case review and first consultation with our drowning and aquatic accident injury lawyer are always free of charge and do not require you to hire us as your legal counsel to remain free! If you decide that a lawsuit is in order, and that you would like for us to represent you in court, we are  willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement we will win for you!