Public pool electrocution death raises safety concerns

RALEIGH (WLS) -- There are growing calls to improve safety standards after a tragic electrocution in North Carolina, where a lifeguard was killed. Her family is now suing.

It's an invisible danger that can paralyze or even kill in an instant: thousands of volts of electricity in pool water caused by hazards like faulty wiring.

Caught on security footage, a young girl at a Florida pool touched the metal rail and instantly went limp. As a man tried to help her, he's zapped too, before yanking the girl out of the water.

That girl and all the other swimmers in the pool survived. But 17-year-old Rachel Rosoff wasn't so lucky. The North Carolina high school senior and lifeguard at her community pool tragically lost her life Labor Day weekend last year after she was shocked by the water - enough to cause her muscles to contract, leaving her unable to move and fight her way to the surface.

"She always said she wanted to be strong like me, and she was so much better than I was at 17," said her mother Michelle Rosoff.

Her family is now filing a lawsuit, claiming her death was caused by the allegedly substandard repair work of two Raleigh companies - Williams Electric Motor Repair and Future Connections Electrical, Inc. - who the family alleges, among other problems, failed to fully replace faulty wiring back in 2011.

"They knew of discovered conditions which were dangerous at this pool and they didn't correct them," said David Kirby, attorney.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 14 people have died by electrocution in swimming pools between 2003 and 2014.

"There are lots of things swimmers should look for; frayed wires, if it doesn't look right, if the lighting looks old and in disrepair it could be dangerous," said expert Alan Korn.

That same kind of shock killed 7-year-old Calder Sloan at his family pool in 2014.

"The boy that never stopped running. He never stopped doing anything. Everybody who knew him was heartbroken," said his mother Carla Sloan.

Safety experts also say many pools are only inspected by an electrician when they are first opened for the season.

"It's not a bad idea to look for the inspection notice to make sure that the municipality, the city, the state has looked at his pool and made sure it's safe," Korn said.

In the wake of Rachel Rosoff's death, some North Carolina lawmakers want a law requiring additional inspections of all public swimming pools in the state.
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