IMO: You're not going to believe his defense!

County Fair lineman testifies
He says he wasn't told to connect ground wire
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
Maggi Martin
Plain Dealer Reporter
Nick Rock, a 40-year electrical lineman, said he never connected a green wire that would have prevented an electrocution because he was never told to connect it.

The green ground wire would have prevented the severe shock that killed Greyson Yoe, 8, while he waited to ride the bumper cars at Lake County Fair last summer, experts testified.

Rock, 80, was one of 12 defense witnesses to testify Monday during his reckless homicide and manslaughter trial in Lake County Common Pleas Court. The case has drawn national attention from amusement ride owners and inspectors.

"I did not connect it because I did not know what it was for," Rock testified. "I was under the impression it was grounded through a grounding rod."

Rock said he climbed a CEI pole to connect power to the bumper cars and bypassed a disconnect box that would have provided an emergency cutoff if the power surged. He bypassed the box because it was overloaded with other fair rides, Rock said.

He connected three of the ride's four electrical wires, leaving the green one dangling. He testified that he thought the white neutral wire was sufficient to ground the ride and prevent electrical shock.

"I was not told to hook up the green wire," Rock testified. Two men working with the ride operators told him the wire was unnecessary, he said.

Other electrical experts have testified that the green grounding wire is essential to the safe connection of any amusement ride. The National Electric Code requires a disconnect box as well.

The defense called seven witnesses who testified they were shocked or saw the power fail while waiting for the bumper cars hours before Greyson Yoe was killed.

Stephanie Flarida said that when she and her three children told the ride operator they were shocked while leaning on a rail, he alerted a supervisor.

"They did nothing," Flarida said.

Ride operator David Yannie, 16, said his training consisted of learning how to push a button. When he told the owner about the reported shocks, he was told, "Keep running it."

Even the state ride inspector admitted there were problems.

Jason Foreman, an agent with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which supervises amusement ride safety, said he wrote the safety manual that state inspectors use. Written in 1980, it was not updated until 2001. Foreman said he wrote the safety precautions but has no background in electrical safety. He is a former carpenter.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 440-602-4782

© 2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.