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Mother of electrocuted Raleigh lifeguard calls for mandatory pool inspections

Posted May 2

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— The mother of a Raleigh teen who died last year after being electrocuted in a pool is sharing her story in hopes that it will save lives.

Michelle Rosoff wants to get a bill passed in the General Assembly that would require every public pool to have its electric wiring inspected annually. Her daughter, Rachel Rosoff, was a Raleigh lifeguard. She died when she dipped her hand into the Heritage Point pool to check the chemicals one morning in September. She was electrocuted and then drowned.

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.

"Everybody has that invincibility that it can't happen to me, but never in a million years did I ever think I would be the grieving parent of a child," Michelle Rosoff said.

Rosoff assumed the pool where Rachel worked was safe. It had passed three inspections in 2016.

In Wake County, the inspections include making sure the drains work properly, the water quality is at a healthy level, the signs and emergency phones are in place and there are no hazards around the pool. The inspections do not include any assessment of electrical wiring.

According to DHHS, many pools in the area were built between the 1970s and the 1990s, and have not been checked since. They say most likely have undetected electrical problems.

After Rachel Rosoff's death, the agency issued a memo recommending that pool operators evaluate electrical systems on a regular basis, but it is not mandatory.

"It could have been anybody and it still could be, and that's the scary thing," Michelle Rosoff said. "It's not like this pool was an isolated pool that didn't have an inspection. It is across the board, pools are not having inspections."

Electrical inspections can cost several hundred dollars, and fixing problems can cost thousands.

One Raleigh Homeowners Association recently paid more than $29,999 to fix its wiring. The controversial cost was opposed by some residents who don't use the pool, or see it as an unnecessary expense.

Michelle Rosoff is now circulating a petition to shore up support for the bill.

"It should never, ever happen again," she said. "There should never be another time. There is awareness now."

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