Fire Ball Manufacturer Blames Ohio State Fair Accident On "Excessive Corrosion"

Aug 7, 2017

The Dutch manufacturer of a thrill ride that broke apart and killed an 18-year-old man at the Ohio State Fair says excessive corrosion on a support beam led to a "catastrophic failure."

The memo posted by KMG on its Facebook page on Sunday says company officials visited the accident site and conducted metallurgical tests.  

The memo was posted to KMG's Facebook page on Sunday.
Credit KMG/Facebook

The statement says the corrosion "dangerously reduced" the thickness on the wall of the beam holding a passenger gondola on the swinging and spinning ride.

"This finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation," the company said.

The company says the ride was 18 years old.

Tyler Jarrell died from blunt force trauma injuries after being tossed into the air when the Fire Ball ride broke apart July 26. Four people remained hospitalized last week, including one in a coma.

KMG ordered similar rides shut down worldwide after the accident. According to the company, they have revised inspection protocols to start the process of reopening those rides safely.

Ken Martin, an amusement ride safety analyst and consultant based in Richmond, Va., says the need to inspect interior aspects of the ride should have been clearly stated.

"That's something the manufacturer needs to specifically state in their manual and operating procedures because if they don't, how would a normal citizen, inspector or amusement ride owner know the quality or content of what went into making this ride unless it's written down somewhere?" Martin says.

According to Martin, "anytime you have corrosion or rust, it comes from a substance or substances that most likely is going to be moisture." He says the Fire Ball traveled internationally, possibly coming into contact with salt water which would contribute to speedier corrosion. 

The Ohio State Highway Patrol continues to investigate the incident.