COLUMBUS (AP/CBS SF) — The manufacturer of a thrill ride that broke apart at the Ohio State Fair, killing one person and injuring seven others, is ordering the rides to be shut down around the world.
Dutch manufacturer KMG said Thursday that it’s telling operators to cease operations until it can investigate and learn more about what caused the malfunction.
The company says there are 43 such rides around the world, including 11 in the United States. The order doesn’t impact the company’s other rides.
It says the accident Wednesday evening was the first such serious malfunction on one of the rides.
Video taken by a bystander of the swinging, spinning Fire Ball ride in action captured a crashing sound. A section holding four riders came apart, and screams could be heard as at least two people were ejected and plunged toward the ground. Other riders were still in their seats as they fell.
Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, was thrown about 50 feet and pronounced dead on the midway. The Marine Corps and school officials said Jarrell enlisted last week and was going to begin basic training next summer after his high school graduation.
“That was just this past Friday. Then he goes to the state fair and he is involved in this horrible tragedy. It’s just devastating,” said Capt. Gerard Lennon Jr., a naval science instructor in the Junior ROTC program at Jarrell’s high school.
The injured ranged in age from 14 to 42. At least two were listed in critical condition. Some people were hit by debris.
Jarrell’s girlfriend was among those seriously injured, her mother told The Columbus Dispatch. Keziah Lewis, a University of Cincinnati student, doesn’t remember the accident and has pelvis, ankle and rib injuries, Clarissa Williams said.
“She kept asking for her boyfriend,” Williams said. “I had to tell her he was the one who was deceased.”
Kaylie Bellomy was in the next group waiting to board the Fire Ball.
“It was going for a minute and it was at its highest point and I saw somebody fall on the ride, and then a minute later the whole like row of seats fell off and hit the ground,” Bellomy told WCMH-TV.
She said it was chaos afterward: “Everybody was running. I got ran over trying to get out of the way.”
Inspectors repeatedly looked over the ride while it was assembled at the Ohio State Fair and signed off on it hours before it flew apart, according to authorities and records released Thursday.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich shut down all rides at the state fair and ordered them inspected again. He said it was too early to say whether inspectors missed something that led to the tragedy Wednesday night.
“It’s a nightmare. It’s a terrible situation,” he said.
Fairs in California, New Jersey and Canada have since closed similar rides.
On Thursday, Cal/OSHA released a statement affirming that amusement ride owners have voluntarily shut down the six Fire Ball rides in California parks after the fatal ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair.
Cal/OSHA’s Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit contacted owners Wednesday evening after receiving notification of the accident in Ohio, asking that owners close the rides pending word from the manufacturers or after a ride inspection by Cal/OSHA.
All of the rides have been voluntarily shut down by the owners.
The statement said the Fire Ball rides are located at six locations across the state, including:
- Orange County Fair owned and operated by Ray Cammack Shows (portable
- Cal Expo State Fair owned and operated by Butler Amusements (portable ride)
- Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
- California’s Great America in Santa Clara
- Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park
- Belmont Park in San Diego
In Santa Cruz, inspectors were visiting Thursday morning to check out the permanent installation version ride at the Beach Boardwalk and to make sure it is safe.
“We are just closing the ride and leaving it as is until we get more information from the state and some direction from them as to how they would like us to handle the situation,” said Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk spokesperson Kris Reyes.
The Fireball ride is also shut down at the California State Fair in Sacramento.
State Fair Safety Inspector Barry Schaible said they wasted no time shutting down the ride, as soon as they received word about the accident in Ohio.
“We were alerted about 10 minutes afterward, we all got our phones ringing at the same time. And we went down and shut down the ride immediately,” Schaible said. “That ride is going to stay closed until the manufacturer contacts us, tells us what happened to the other one and gives us either a repair or tells us its okay to reopen it.”
Cal/OSHA oversees inspections of both permanent and portable amusement park rides in the state of California.
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