Couple's new swimming pool revealed unnerving safety issues

BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) -- 6 News exposes work on a backyard pool that a state inspector calls so unsafe someone could have been electrocuted. The serious violations led to rare disciplinary action against a licensed electrician.

After hosting pool parties late last summer Dave and Darla Zemula got a shocking inspection report.

Kevin Booker, a State Electrical Inspector said, “So many violations on this one pool, my general fear is electrocution.”

State Electrical Inspector Kevin Booker called in after Bellevue red-tagged the pool installed less than a year ago.

There was an exposed electrical junction box that sat open less than two feet from the swimming pool.

“It’s hazardous,” said Booker.

The Zemula’s say they paid Artisan Pools from Elkhorn about $63,000.

“I guess we should have been a little bit more knowledgeable at the process but I guess when you hire someone you feel confident they’re going to do the right things,” said Darla.

Claiming he’s owed $13,000 more, K.C. Barth of Artisan Pools says he stopped work and never signed off on the use of the pool.
But Barth said, “I did install the outlets' something I should not have done.”

“The contractor told us it was good to go you can swim in your pool,” said Dave.

Licensed electrician Tom Hamre worked for the pool contractor.

“He was going to call me to come and finish it. I never got that call,” said Hamre.

The electrician got called before the Nebraska State Electrical Board because he’s responsible for electrical work on the pool project even if he didn’t do it all.

Kevin Booker said, “The work done by both parties led that pool to be unsafe, nobody should have even been in that pool.”

The 14-year electrician knew his license was on the line.

“I met Kevin down there to see what we had to do, I’m not trying to run from the situation, I’m just trying to make it right,” said Hamre.

But the Electrical Board unanimously voted to revoke the electrician’s license.

George Morrissey the President State Electrical Board said, “The quality of that work could have led to a safety issue somebody getting hurt or killed.”

Using their new pool six weeks late last summer left the Zemula’s with warm memories that now give them chills.

“I had my whole family in and a lot of friends and now it’s not safe it’s very concerning,” said Darla.

The electrician declined to comment after the board revoked his license. An attorney for the pool contractor sent a statement that reads, "Artisan Pools continues to stand behind its reputation of being a premier pool company in the Omaha metro area and throughout the state of Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota for the last 18 years. This commitment has yielded us 1st Place Omaha Choice Awards winner for 3 consecutive years. Unfortunately, a contract dispute to which we have continued to try and mitigate has gone unanswered by our client, and they have chosen to file complaints on work that we have not signed off on or had an opportunity to remedy in natural course. This complaint has put Artisan Pools under additional scrutiny, to which we welcome. Artisan Pools is committed to the highest standards for our clients in terms of overall satisfaction and most importantly safety! We will be working with inspection authorities across the board to make absolutely certain that all our work up to and beyond the scope they feel necessary will be handled in a professional and timely manner."