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Joined: Sep 2001
Posts: 136
3 charged in electrocution of boy at Lake County Fair


Maggi Martin and Michael Scott
Plain Dealer Reporters

Painesville- Two state inspectors and a longtime Lake County Fair worker were charged Friday with reckless homicide and man slaughter in the electrocution of an 8-year-old boy at the fair last summer.

Prosecutors believe this is the first time anyone has been criminally charged in Ohio as a result of a death on an amusement ride.

From Our Advertiser

A Lake County grand jury secretly indicted Ohio Department of Agriculture amusement-ride inspectors Theodore Brubaker and Kalin Turner and County Fair worker Nick Rock of Mentor this month.

In addition to facing the reckless-homicide and involuntary-manslaughter counts, the inspectors were charged with dereliction of duty in the death of Greyson Yoe of Madison.

"The grand jury charges reveal that this death did not have to happen," said Vince Culotta, assistant Lake County prosecutor. "They thought this was much more than an accident. Several people's reckless and negligent behavior contributed to the death of an 8-year-old boy."

The three men were released on personal bond after plead- ing not guilty to the charges Friday.

Neither they nor their lawyers would comment.

Prosecutors said two more secret indictments in the case are likely to be made public next week.

Greyson was severely shocked on Aug. 13, 2003, while waiting in line with his father to ride the Scooter, a bumper-car ride at the fair. He never regained consciousness and died in hospice care Sept. 2.

Bill Yoe, Greyson's father, said Friday that the community's prayers and support have helped the family. He said the indictments provided little comfort. "This is not a pleasant day for anyone," he said. "However, it is important that those who have responsibility for this event be held accountable for their actions."

Culotta said the Scooter ride's electrical system was not properly grounded. He said the three men were charged with recklessly causing Greyson's death when they failed to follow proper state codes concerning amusement-ride safety.

The indictment against Rock says he failed to follow a state code requiring the ride's electrical wires to be "protected and insulated" to prevent a shock hazard and that all equipment must be grounded.

Culotta said the inspectors were indicted on the manslaughter charges on alternate theories. He said Greyson died either because the inspectors failed to do their job or did it recklessly.

Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey said in a news release that the accident was heartbreaking for everyone involved. The two inspectors were placed on paid leave Wednesday when officials were told of the indictments. Both men also were placed on paid leave Aug. 28 and returned to work Nov. 3.

"We are confident that at the end of this process, our employees will not be held responsible for Greyson's death," Dailey said.

Culotta said each defendant faces up to five years in prison on each count. Rock, 80, is a Lake County Fair fixture. He has been making the electrical connections at the County Fair for nearly 40 years, and his wife is the fair's public-address announcer.

The elderly fair worker, who appeared in court wearing a red flannel work shirt, shook as he read the charges against him. He said little, answering only "Yes, sir," when Lake County Common Pleas Judge Paul Mitrovich asked him if he understood the charges.

Prosecutors gave defense lawyers an 8-inch-thick investigative report on the incident.

The documents included digital photos of the ride, its electrical system and the hookup to fair power sources.

Witnesses told sheriff's deputies that the boy was holding onto the rail that circled the ride and that he may also have been standing on a black electrical cord that was part of the ride. He called out "Help me" and dropped to the ground as electricity surged through his body, some witnesses said.

Some witnesses told investigators after Greyson's electrocution that they had been mildly shocked at the ride earlier in the day, and one witness said she had been shocked by the same ride at the same location a year earlier.

The Plain Dealer also discovered that copies of the required inspection report for the Scooter were not given to ride operators nor to Lake County Fair officials this year before the accident happened.

A copy of the inspectors' report indicates they never saw the Scooter operating with riders in the bumper cars, but records that they did see it operating at a "safe speed."

Department of Agriculture officials have said a copy of that inspection report was never given to the ride owner, the ride operator or Lake County Fair officials.

Instead, the original inspection report and three color-coded duplicates were found by state officials in their files.

State officials have also said that ride owner Amusements of Buffalo did not file a written report on the accident as required by state laws and rules governing amusement rides.

A state spokeswoman said that the company reported the accident by telephone on Aug. 13 but that she had no record of a written report as required by state law.

"This could have happened to any one of a thousand people at the fair," said Tim Cannon, lawyer for the Yoe family. "The most significant thing is that through this we will hopefully get some answers to why this happened and make sure that it never happens again."

Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 681
This is going to have far reaching implications throughout the inspection sector of the industry!


Pierre Belarge
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,749
That's one of the reasons we should all be aware of the following NEC .....

ARTICLE 525 Carnivals, Circuses, Fairs, and Similar Events

I. General Requirements

525.1 Scope.

This article covers the installation of portable wiring and equipment for carnivals, circuses, fairs, and similar functions, including wiring in or on all structures.


[This message has been edited by Joe Tedesco (edited 01-18-2004).]

Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,407
Just a small note here guys,
Witnesses told sheriff's deputies that the boy was holding onto the rail that circled the ride and that he may also have been standing on a black electrical cord that was part of the ride. He called out "Help me" and dropped to the ground as electricity surged through his body, some witnesses said.
Was this young fella wearing bare feet?.
I'm not looking to minimise the situation here but, I would have thought that you'd at least wear shoes into a Carnival area?.
Also, who inspects(electrically) these rides before they are put back into service?, is there a requirement to test them at certain monthly intervals, like here in NZ, where they travel around the country?.
The needless death of a young one!. [Linked Image]

Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 394
Ammusment parks are generally inspected by the state. Hence, in this case, the government inspectors are in the hot seat. When I worked for a park, we did regular self inspection, had an professional engineering firm that did perodic checks, the insurance company stopped by a couple of times a season, and the state inspectors made an annual visit. Parks are generally pretty safe. The really scary part of the industry is carnivals. The roll into a parking lot, set up overnight, run for a few days to a week or 2, close, tear down at night, and leave the county or even the state for the next show. There is almost no regulation and you can guess what the frequent setup and teardown does to the equipment, not to mention operating in all kinds of weather with nothing but portable power connections. They have almost no incentive for maintenance beyond just what it takes to keep the rides running. I will go to ammusment parks but you will never see me on a carnival ride. I know too much.

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