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Family of Raleigh lifeguard: 'Substandard work' led to electrocution

Posted April 10

Rachel Rosoff, drowned lifeguard

— The family of a 17-year-old lifeguard who was electrocuted and drowned Labor Day weekend filed a lawsuit Monday against two electrical companies, saying their substandard work let to her death.

Rachel Rosoff was found in a pool on Valley Forge Road in the Heritage Point neighborhood on Sept. 3 and pulled from the water.

Authorities later determined that a faulty ground wire in the pool's electrical system didn't trip a circuit breaker when the pump motor failed, allowing the water in the pool to become electrified.

Rosoff was a student at Enloe High School, and she worked as a lifeguard at the community pool through the Aquatic Management Group.

The lawsuit, filed by Rosoff’s parents on what would have been her 18th birthday, names Williams Electric Motor Repair, Inc. and Future Connections Electrical, Inc. as defendants.

The lawsuit claims that work performed by Williams Electric in June 2011 violated the National Electrical Code.

At the time of the accident, the Heritage Point pool had been inspected three times in 2016 for health and safety issues but an electrical inspection hadn’t happened since the pool was built in 1979.

The lawsuit alleges that the installation work done in 2011 by Williams Electric required that the aluminum wiring that had been in place since 1979 be replaced, but the company failed to do so.

The lawsuit also claims that Williams Electric did not have a permit for the work performed and did not have the work inspected, as required by law.

The lawsuit alleges that Future Connections installed the wrong size capacitor in the pool’s pump motor, causing it to fail and overheat on the day Rosoff drowned and that employees found safety hazards at the pool that they should have reported and didn’t.

“What happened to Rachel could just as easily have happened when the pool was filled with children,” attorney David Kirby said. “We need to ensure that this tragedy is never repeated.”

Under current law, electrical systems at public pools are required to be inspected only when the pools first open, but Rosoff’s family is lobbying for annual electrical inspections.

House Bill 598, which was filed Wednesday, would require a new electrical inspection for every public swimming pool across North Carolina. Wake County alone is estimated to have more than 1,100 public pools.

The state Department of Health and Human Services last month recommended to county health departments statewide that licensed electricians be hired to routinely inspect pool electrical systems.

Wake County pool inspectors said they would provide the DHHS memo to all pool operators with their yearly inspection fee invoice, but any electrical inspections would be up to individual operators.


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  • Ed Brown Apr 11, 2017
    user avatar

    A GFCI actually doesn't need a connected ground to work. What it detects is the imbalance between the current out of the "hot" wire and the return current through the neutral wire. For this to happen, the GFCI would have to be absent or malfunctioning.

  • Jamie Patrick Apr 11, 2017
    user avatar

    No mention of a GFCI in the inspection report.. perhaps not required in the 1978 NEC.

  • Jim Dunn Apr 11, 2017
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Loose ground wire into the GFIC for the motor disabled the protection (current into and out of motor not equal). The load breaker for the motor may not trip if there is enough resistance to prevent it from over current. It takes very little AC current to kill if the conditions are right.

    I check the ground fault circuit on my hot tub monthly. You never know.

  • Henry Cooper Apr 10, 2017
    user avatar

    This is so bad. I can't imagine the parents heartbreak. I was a life guard in HS and college and would have never thought of something like this.

    Seems like it would be simple to put a safety light/ audible warning attached to some sensors in the pool. If it is enough juice to incapacitate a young health swimmer then it should light an LED with no problem.

  • Mitchell Haas Apr 10, 2017
    user avatar

    Whoa! Thats one heck of a pump to electify the whole pool