Hotel management company responds to lawsuit after girl ‘violently sucked’ into uncovered pipe in pool

The family’s attorney said they believe the 5-year-old was being sucked into an uncovered pipe in the hotel pool and Aliyah Jaico was trying to help her.

HOUSTON — A management company for a northwest Houston hotel has responded to a lawsuit in the death of an 8-year-old girl.

According to the lawsuit, Aliyah Lynette Jaico, 8, died back in March after she was “violently sucked” into a pipe at the swimming pool at the hotel on Saturday, March 23.

Her family sued the company that operates the Doubletree by Hilton Houston Brookhollow off Highway 290 at Pinemont Drive for wrongful death. Aliyah was at the pool with her mother, younger sister, and other family members when she was killed.

Now according to brand new court documents, that company is denying “all claims and allegations” against them, saying, “Northwest generally denies each and every, all and singular, the claims and causes of action against them, the allegations in Plaintiffs’ Seventh Amended Petition and demands that, since Plaintiffs have made such allegations, they be required to prove them with strict proof thereof, by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Family files lawsuit

WARNING: This story contains details that some may find disturbing.

“The family is devastated. It’s been horrible and a horrific experience for my client,” attorney Richard Nava told KHOU 11 back in March.  

Nava is representing the family in a lawsuit for more than $1 million lawsuit.

In a news conference when the suit was announced, Nava said Aliyah may have been trying to save her 5-year-old sister who was also being sucked into the uncovered hole. The younger girl was pulled from the pool by a 13-year-old cousin but Aliyah disappeared “in a split second.”

“Her poor little body was contorted when she was sucked into this hole and pipe 20 feet back. Her body was inside of the motor when she had to be extracted,” he said. “They had to break up concrete in order to extract her, cut pipe. It was absolutely horrific.”

‘She just disappeared’

Hours before she died, Aliyah’s family rented a room at the hotel to enjoy a day of swimming, the lawsuit said. 

According to Nava, the mother stepped away briefly but other family members were with her daughters in the pool. 

“A lot of people are making comments about her [the mother] … that she wasn’t there, she was missing or she may have been in the hotel room. None of that is true,” Nava said.

Around 4:50 p.m., the family realized Aliyah was missing. Aliyah’s mother and others “frantically” searched for the little girl, according to the lawsuit.  

“Nobody could say where she was, she just disappeared,” Nava said.

Around 5:20 p.m., the mother asked hotel management to look at surveillance footage but they said the police would have to be present to view it, according to the lawsuit. 

Around 5:45 p.m., Aliyah’s family called 911 and reported her missing.

‘Never got out of the pool’

Texas EquuSearch volunteers searched around the hotel and the surrounding area. They were concerned someone may have taken Aliyah. 

Equusearch founder Tim Miller said when they finally saw the surveillance video, they realized the girl never left the water. 

“We could see her little head go down and never to be seen again, so it was pretty obvious something happened and she never got out of the pool,” Miller said.

Equusearch used a 20-foot pole with a camera attached to inspect the open pipe and found Aliyah wedged inside. 

“It was something that was just almost unbelievable when we put that pole up there with that camera and it was just, it was almost unbelievable,” Miller said. “We could not believe, looking at her size and the size of that pipe that this could have happened.”

The child’s body wasn’t recovered by the Houston Fire Department until 6:45 Sunday morning, nearly 14 hours after she disappeared.

WATCH: News conference with family’s attorney, Equusearch founder Tim Miller

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‘Could have been avoidable’

The lawsuit alleges Aliyah’s death was directly caused by the hotel’s negligence and the defective condition of the premises. An annual inspection of the pool by the Houston Health Department last year listed multiple violations. 

“We are seeking justice because this could have been avoidable, everybody knows this could have been avoidable,” Nava said. “This hotel ran an establishment with many violations, the pool was not in working order, and we will show that in court.”

The lawsuit names Hilton Worldwide, which owns Double Tree, and Unique Crown Hospitality, the local company that manages the property. We’ve reached out to both for comment. 

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