Electrician found guilty in bumper car electrocution

Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2004 10:38 AM | Contributed by Jeff

The man who for 40 years provided the electrical connections that powered the Lake County Fair was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide Tuesday in the electrocution of 8-year-old Greyson Yoe. Nick Rock, 80, was found guilty of recklessly causing Greyson's death by improperly connecting wires to a main power line. Two ride inspectors are also charged and awaiting a verdict.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 11:25 AM
This is ridiculous. Accidents happen.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 11:43 AM
Yes, accidents happen, but if he knowingly wired something improperly (and as an electrician, he should damn well know -- check the ground!) then the finding is correct.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 12:01 PM
Failure to connect a ground is not acceptible. This kid became the ground with obvious results. This wasn't an accident; it was preventable.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 12:47 PM
This guy is eighty years old.Your using todays standards to judge him.Now electricians go to school and have to pass test on electrical code.But when this guy learned it was this new fangled electric power.Did he mean for somebody to get hurt i do not think so.He has been setting up this fair for 40 years and nobody got hurt.It is more of a somebody has to blame for everything cause it can not be accidental. Is putting this guy in jail gonna protect anyone ? I do not think so.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 12:59 PM
It doesn't matter if you're eight or eighty, if you are employed to hook up electricity, it is your DUTY to meet current electrical codes.

Codes change "frequently"..so by your excuse for this guy is that you only need to know how to hook things up the way it was done when you first started is silly.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:31 PM
Kevin, the guy probably won't do jail time anyway, but the fact remains, he did not perform his job correctly. If he was that out of date, he shouldn't have been working at all. "He's 80" isn't an acceptable excuse for something like this -- as Redman said, it was part of his job to make sure he was up-to-date. If that's where he failed, then he was negligent in his duties. If he was aware and didn't perform them anyway, he's still negligent.

Either way, he IS responsible.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:42 PM
This guy was Human.Humans make mistakes and nobody caught it.How many people are enough to hook it up ? When they raise ride tickets to pay for the extra people are you going to complain.

P.S. This guy would have been in school during the depression so he probably did not graduate.Then he probably defended his country in WW II.

P.S.S. You did not answer the one question I asked will putting this guy in jail help anyone ?

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 1:47 PM
It doesn't matter if putting _him_ in jail helps anyone, it's the fact of law. You screw up you pay the price. If they failed to prosecute him then the next guy who screws up in the same manner could point to this case and say, "Why are you picking on me? He did the same thing and got away with it."The other people whose job it was to catch it and ultimately didn't will face trial too. From the article..."Two ride inspectors, the ride owner and supervisor all face similar charges." There _WERE_ enough people to hook it up properly...THEY JUST FAILED TO DO SO! No additional wages would have been necessary. So your question of, "When they raise ride tickets to pay for the extra people are you going to complain?" is totally moot.And your statement of him being a depression baby and served in WWII is just an attempt to bring the sympathy factor in...sorry...how about sympathy for the victim who died because HE SCREWED UP?

/sarcasm on
So also, if "gramps" (not this guy just a fictional character) drinks and drives for his first criminal offense ever and killed an 8 year old boy...should he go free? He's an old man...what good does it serve?
/sarcasm off
*** This post was edited by redman822 6/9/2004 2:01:40 PM ***

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 4:06 PM
The guy said he thought the ride was grounded elsewhere. If that's the case, I think it sets a dangerous precedent in terms of what you should or shouldn't know or the scope of your expertise, not just as an electrician but in ride maintenance. It's even more scary if they convict the inspectors. If they can be held liable, then no one will ever want to do the job.

People miss stuff, as humans, and in some cases like this, the results are tragic. However, I'm not comfortable with the guy getting jail time. He already has to live with the result.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 5:28 PM
Well, it's very easy to test for proper grounding, so that's probably why the inspectors may be held liable as well -- that IS the kind of thing they should probably have been checking for...
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 6:03 PM
Did any of you read yesterday's article about the electrician's testimony? He claimed that he didn't connect the equipment grounding conductor because nobody told him to do it. Well, I'm sorry, but nobody told him NOT to hook it up, either. If you read through the National Electric Code you will find that there is probably more attention given to proper grounding and bonding than to any other single concept in the entire code. If someone brings in a piece of equipment and hands the electrician five wires and tells him to hook it up, it is his responsibility to know how to do it right. That is, after all, why the carnival hired the electrician to do the tie-in: because he knows how to do it right. For that matter, on a piece of metal equipment it would probably be a good idea for the electrician to also verify continuity between some random metal surface on the ride and the electrical service ground, though that is not required (though technically the grounding equipment conductor is supposed to be checked on any flexible cord before the cord is put into service. Yes, it's in the code. No, I can't quote you chapter and verse, as I am on the road right now.) Furthermore, the NEC also specifies that the neutral wire is connected to the ground ONLY at the point of origination. So NOTHING on that ride should be bonded to the neutral conductor.

This has been an electrical standard for decades. The electrician should have known better, and in fact it was his duty to know better...this is why he was doing the tie-in in the first place.

As for the inspectors, there are two issues here. First of all, believe it or not, Ohio's ride inspectors, as I understand it, are not charged (if I dare use that term) with inspecting the ride electrical system. This makes sense, considering that they are able to inspect a ride for purposes of compliance with the amusement ride safety regulations, even when the electrical service is not yet connected. It is possible that the ride was not connected to power when it was inspected, and it is also possible that if the ride was connected, the connection point might not have been accessible to the ride inspector at the time of the inspection. All possibilities, which will doubtless come up in the trial if they apply. Second, there was no obligation for the ride to receive a State operational inspection at the time of the show in question.

Things are a little tougher for the ride owner and his employee who set the ride up. They ARE responsible for making sure that the ride is in good working order, and they are supposed to be conducting regular inspections and not operating the ride if it is hazardous. Let's be careful not to forget that there were TWO failures here. The grounding equipment conductor which has been the focus of the prosecutions so far was a safety device intended to prevent another electrical failure from having catastrophic results. So something else on the ride failed, which ultimately was the cause of the patron's death. The electrician's failure to connect the equipment grounding conductor was not the proximate cause of the incident, it was an aggravating condition. Even if the carnival guys are not liable for improperly connecting the ride, depending on the nature of the electrical failure which caused the ride frame to go live, they may be responsible for the improper maintenance of the ride which caused the electrical failure to occur. That failure may have happened suddenly, or it may have been an existing condition which should have been caught at some point.

Something went terribly wrong with the electrical service on the ride. Had the ride been properly grounded, that problem would not have resulted in a fatal injury.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 7:07 PM

RideMan said:He claimed that he didn't connect the equipment grounding conductor because nobody told him to do it.

I know someone who said that same thing once. He was fired on the spot. (...and that was before opening, without anyone getting hurt.)

The fact that he was 80 has no bearing on this. In fact, if he was doing electrical work for all those years, he should know better! Grounding wasn't invented yesterday.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 7:56 PM
It's hard to add much to what Dave has said. About all I can do is reinforce it. Grounding and bonding is one of the most basic things in electrical installation and has been for a very long time. To knowling fail to install the grounding conductor is grossly negligent. Yes, Dave is right, there was another failure here.

Saying "Accidents Happen" is a bunch of bull. Accidents have causes. They can be prevented. There are a few (being hit by a meteorite) (the Kennywood tornado) that are so rare and difficult to protect against that prevention just isn't practical. The other 99.9999% are due to safety failures, most commonly human error. They can be prevented. In this case there were at least two human errors, a failure to maintain the ride properly and a failure to ground the ride properly.*** This post was edited by Jim Fisher 6/9/2004 7:59:08 PM ***

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Wednesday, June 9, 2004 8:34 PM
Wow, grounding is something that is stressed from the first time you work with electrical components. To not connect stuff correctly or even check to make sure everything is grounded is extremely negligent. I think he should have been found guilty, as this was an incident that should have never happened. I'm sure that he feels horrible about the incident, and meant no harm, but that's why it's called INVOLUNTARY manslaughter.
*** This post was edited by Blaster_1578 6/9/2004 8:34:52 PM ***
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Thursday, June 10, 2004 2:47 AM
Not that is is an excuse, but his age should be considered. It may be a factor in this case. Most people tend to lose their edge as they get older and are not as sharp as they once were. Or perhaps it was related to some medication of some sort. There are all kinds of tragic examples of older people losing control of a car, etc. and causing injury or death. Not saying that's the case here, but it could be and should be taken into account if it is.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004 10:15 AM
Careful buf, your dangerously close to hate speech in some people's minds. Proceed with severe caution if your going to present that argument! :-)
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Thursday, June 10, 2004 11:15 AM
Age may well be a factor in sentencing, but it's not a factor in responsibility, unless the person is in such bad shape that they are mentally incompetent. I think that any electrician that is in shape to get to the job site would have to remember that things have to be grounded. It would be like walking out without you pants for an electrician to forget about grounding. Besides his defense wasn't that he forgot. It was that no one told him too ground. Heck, if you are an electrician and someone tells you not to ground, you should seriously consider finding a new job.
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Thursday, June 10, 2004 4:54 PM
Years ago when I started in this business,(it was on one of Floyd Goodings units) you were taught the first line connected was the ground, and the last line disconnected was the ground. Fail to due so and you had your walking papers, period. Dave brings up a very valid point, in that there obvioulsy something very wrong with that bumper car set for this unfortunate accident to have occured. If the equipment was properly maintained, then this event would not have occured even if the ground wasn't hooked up.
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Thursday, June 10, 2004 10:17 PM
It's funny how people say "people make mistakes" only when they do something wrong.
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