Family of hotel worker who drowned during Hurricane Harvey files lawsuit against Omni Houston Hotel

HOUSTON — The family of a Houston hotel worker who drowned during Hurricane Harvey has filed a lawsuit in Dallas against Omni Hotels and Resorts.

The suit claims the Omni Houston Hotel and its parent company— Irving-based TRT Holdings, Inc.— are guilty of 'gross negligence and conscious disregard for their guests' in the wake of the massive flooding which occurred during last year's monstrous storm.

Hotel employee Ella Jill Renick, 48, worked as spa director at the Omni Houston Hotel-Galleria when Hurricane Harvey hit. Her body was recovered from the ceiling of the hotel's basement when flood waters finally receded.

At the time, the hotel released a statement saying, "We are heartbroken and shaken by this development."

When the flooding first began, authorities reported Renick had called a co-worker saying she was stuck in a service elevator with flood waters rushing in around her.

The lawsuit claims Renick was "heard screaming and clamoring for help by people on the first floor," but help never came for her.

The suit goes on to claim Renick climbed out of the elevator car and went into the flooding basement's ceiling tiles desperately searching for the last pockets of air before drowning in the rising flood waters.

The lawsuit also includes Otis Elevator Company as a defendant, citing the hotel's elevators lacked flood sensors.

The lawsuit alleges the Omni Houston Hotel "cared more about evacuating furniture from their flooding hotel than its guests."

So far, the hotel chain has no comment.

The family attorney said "Jill's death was horrific and easily preventable."

Now a Dallas County jury will decide if they agree.

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