The Ohio State Fair is one of the largest and oldest fairs in the United States. Since 1850, people from Ohio have enjoyed the food, music, petting zoo, sporting competitions and over 60 rides. One of the popular attractions at the fair is the Fire Ball ride. The structure is a long metal arm that swings back and forth like a massive pendulum while at least six rows of seats spin approximately 40 feet above ground. Since making its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become one of the most popular rides in the U.S., according to Amusements of America.Riders and onlookers screamed at the operator to slow the ride down. The ride had gone through repeated, standard inspections before getting the green light.
Along with it, one of the seating row was flung 50 feet into the air, along with the riders. One 18-year-old man hit the ground and was killed on impact.
Some were hurt by the fall while others were hit by flying debris. The names of the victims listed by authorities: Tamika Dunlap, 36; Russell Franks, 42; Keziah Lewis, 19; Jacob Andrews, 22; Jennifer Lambert, 18; and Abdihakim Hussein, 19. A 14-year-old boy was wounded but his name has not been made public.
Jarrell has enlisted last week in the Marine Corps. He was going to begin basic training in the summer of 2018, after graduating high school.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to Tyler Jarrell’s family and all of those affected by his loss. The Marines here are greatly saddened by this tragedy,” The Marine Corps spokesperson says. “We are truly proud to have known him as one of the brave few willing to step up and serve his country.”
Another was listed in serious condition. Jarrell’s father, Anthony Jarrell, said his son had a bright future ahead. “My question is who (is) responsible for not doing their job of inspecting the rides?” he asks.
“My children, my grandchildren ride this equipment so our guys do not rush through this stuff,” said Michael Vartorella, chief ride inspector of the Amusement Ride Safety Division.
Ironically, four rides failed the inspection on Monday, July 24, but inspectors didn’t see any red flags concerning the Fire Ball. “It was inspected at a couple of different stages and it was signed off today,” Vartorella told reporters on the day of the tragedy.
She emotionally told reporters that the ride began to shake uncontrollably moments before it broke off. The 16-year-old said she saw people flying into the air and falling to the ground.
Everybody just started getting stuck in it, they couldn’t move. I just remember this little girl screaming for her mom,” she recalled. Williams was taken to the hospital that same night after having an anxiety attack.
Similar rides have also been halted from operations until further notice. Many amusement parks in North America have stopped the operation prior to the company’s request.
Nonetheless, they want to point out negligence was not a factor. “The Fire Ball was being operated by one of the most respected and long established companies in our industry and was designed and manufactured by a leading international maker of amusement rides,” Johnson said in a statement today.
You can inspect, and you can reinspect, and you can in this case have a third party inspect,” Kasich said. “But if you’re looking for guarantees in life, they don’t exist. You just make sure that the risk you take on is something that you balance against the activity you want to engage in.”
In 2016, there were approximately 30,900 injuries relating to amusement park that require a visit to the hospital, according to Patty Davis, press secretary for the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The fairs had over 70 rides inspected days prior to the fair’s opening day. The The Ohio State Fair released a statement following the tragedy.
“We have shut down all rides until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe,” it concluded. The fair was opened the next day but the rides were not in operation.
He was waiting in line for the ride. He shared the video with ABC News. “The people that were working it had pressed the emergency brake,” he told the network.
Bellinger added that once he saw people fall out of the ride, he turned his head. “I couldn’t watch it,” he said.
Abdihakim Hussein, 19, one of the people on the Fire Ball ride when it broke off called the experience “terrifying.”
The floor of their car lifted up but the ride kept going. Hussein was with his girlfriend Hannah Sallee, 20. She thought that when the piece broke off their car was next to crash.
In a twist of fate, both Sallee and Hussein were in the car that crashed but switched before the ride started. “If we never would have switched it (our seats), that would’ve been us,” he said.
This was going to be the first time Britney, 16, was going to ride the Fire Ball. She was near the gate when “We saw the people coming out of the cart and then I was right next in line so I saw the buttons that the guy was hitting.”
Britney and Kiley called her parents who were on another part of the fair. Her parents called the police while trying to physically reach their daughters.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s amusement ride inspectors inspect double the number of rides it did 15 years ago with the same number of people working. In 2001, the ride inspection division had 11 employees doing 2,000 inspections annually.
As more rides are being inspected and getting the green light, more are re-opening for the public. Nonetheless, Britney and Kylie’s dad, Tom Neal, says he will not let his daughters go on rides again.