New Ohio Committee Aims To Increase Confidence In Amusement Rides

Jan 5, 2018

Nearly six months after a deadly ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair, a state board on ride safety is taking action to increase public confidence in amusement rides.

The Ohio Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety voted Thursday to form a committee to "talk about the inspection process,” although the board did not specifically mention the Fire Ball, the ride that broke apart.

The formation of the new committee came after board vice chair Bill Prowant said the state has issues with the public perception of ride safety.

Board member Luis Perez told WSYX the new committee is not an effort to put a public relations spin on safety efforts.

“No, I think (the public) should have full confidence there will be action,” Perez said.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, died on the state fair's first day last year when the Fire Ball ride broke apart mid-swing. Photos of the ride show rust and corrosion on the inside of a carriage arm likely led to the carriage flying off the ride mid-swing.

KMG, the ride’s manufacturer, has said the corrosion dangerously reduced the thickness on the arm’s wall, and has directed blame at ride operator Amusements of America.

KMG ordered similar rides shut down worldwide after the accident. 

Amusements of America said they found no evidence of operator error.

A review by the Department of Agriculture, which oversees ride safety at the state fair, found allowing the ride to rust to the point of breaking into pieces did not violate Ohio law.

In August, state officials said they would not pursue a criminal case.

WOSU found that Ohio requires state inspectors to assess amusement park rides before they can be licensed to operate, in addition to inspectors hired by ride owners. But each state has different rules on how machines are inspected and different safety standards.

In Ohio and many other states, it's the ride owners who are responsible for reporting accidents or malfunctions.