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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Plain Dealer Reporter
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.
A Lake County jury of six men and six women deliberated five hours before finding Nick Rock, 80, of Mentor, guilty of recklessly causing Greyson's death by improperly connecting wires to a main power line. Rock faces up to five years in prison but could be placed on probation instead.
Greyson suffered a severe shock in August while waiting for a bumper car ride and died five weeks later. Outside the courtroom after the verdict, wiping tears from their eyes, his parents declined to comment.
Rock appeared stunned as the verdict was read. He and his lawyer, Neil Wilson, also declined to comment afterward.
Assistant County Prosecutors Karen Kowall and Mark Bartolotta said they hoped the conviction would send a message to ride owners and fair managers across the country. "This case should serve as a wake-up call to amusement park owners that they have a greater responsibility than selling tickets and setting up rides," Kowall said. "Hopefully it will have a ripple effect in improving safety standards."
Rock failed to connect a green grounding wire that several electrical experts said would have prevented the shock that killed Greyson.
"No one is going to say he is a bad guy," Bartolotta said. "He used bad judgment and the unfortunate results were a tragedy."
But Rock is not the only one to blame for Greyson's death, prosecutors said.
Two ride inspectors, the ride owner and supervisor all face similar charges.
Rock spent more than 40 years setting up rides, concession stands and booths at the fair. His wife, Betty, is known as the voice of the fair for her announcements during the festivities. Rock also helped set up other functions and festivals at the fairgrounds.
He testified that he thought the ride was grounded elsewhere and that he was never told to connect the grounding wire.
Kowall said they have sympathy for Rock, considering his age and long record of community involvement.
"This case was sad. It was an overwhelming tragedy," Kowall said. "But it was also a preventable act. This little boy did not have to die."
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