Edmonton, Toronto events won't use Fire Ball ride after death in Ohio

The Ohio State Fair opened Thursday but the rides won't be in operation until they're deemed safe, a day after a teen boy was killed and seven other people were hurt when a thrill ride broke apart.

Ohio State Fair opens but without rides after deadly Fire Ball incident that killed teen

The man who died in the Ohio fair incident involving the Fire Ball was reportedly thrown from the ride as came apart. (Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch/AP)

The Ohio State Fair opened Thursday but the rides won't be in operation until they're deemed safe, a day after a teen boy was killed and seven other people were hurt when a thrill ride broke apart.

Video captured by a bystander at the fair Wednesday evening shows the Fire Ball ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air, and then it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off. Screams are heard as passengers are thrown to the ground.

Officials did not know what caused the ride to break apart.

As a result, the Fire Ball ride has been shut down at Edmonton's K-Days exhibition, underway now, and will no longer be a part of Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition opening Aug. 18.  

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the details of the incident were "a nightmare," but that the state would do everything "humanly possible" to both investigate and ensure the safety of the rest of the rides at the fair, which runs until Aug. 6.

Kasich said it will be up to visitors to make their own judgment when the rides resume, but that accidents occur on ski lifts, roads and in the air.

"We wish we could eliminate them," he said.

Damaged chairs of the Fire Ball ride are shown after the horrifying accident. Some of the victims were thrown from the ride, said Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin. (Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

The man who was killed was one of several people thrown to the ground when the ride malfunctioned. He was identified as Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Ohio. Jarrell had just enlisted in the Marines.

The injured, which included the deceased's girlfriend, range in age from 14 to 42 and were all from the state, the Ohio State Patrol said in a release.

Ohio State Medical Center said three people were being treated there. Two patients remain in critical condition and another is in serious condition after multiple surgeries, according to a hospital statement.

The fair opened Thursday but David Daniels, director of the Agriculture Department, which regulates amusement park rides in the state, said the midway wouldn't open until a complete inspection of rides had occurred.

Daniels said the safety of the fair's guests is a top priority and that the state has qualified inspectors and also uses third-party consultants.

But, he said, "amusement rides are mechanized pieces of equipment and they can fail from time to time."

Kaylie Bellomy described witnessing the tragedy as part of 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.

Horrific and deadly accident at Ohio State Fair

4 years ago
Ride malfunctions; several people thrown as chairs collapse 1:09

It was chaos afterward, she said. "Everybody was running. I got ran over trying to get out of the way."

A company providing rides at the Ohio State Fair this year describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill ride."

Ride was reportedly inspected

The accident has prompted the Fire Ball ride to be shut down at Edmonton's K-Days exhibition, which began last week and runs through the end of this weekend.

"Our thoughts are with those affected by the tragic accident in Ohio this evening. As safety is our number one priority, we support our midway provider's — North American Midway Entertainment — decision to close the Fire Ball ride until further notice," said Lori Cote, manager of communications with Northlands, which puts on the event.

The public relations firm representing the Canadian National Exhibition told CBC News the Fire Ball will not be part of the event "until further notice." The statement indicated that the CNE would work with North American Midway, who are based in Indiana, and provincial regulators to "ensure vigilance in upholding our high standards as well as those of the province."

California State Fair officials are shutting down the Fire Ball ride in the state. Barry Schaible, an inspector with a company hired by the fair, told KCRA-TV in Sacramento, "We shut down the ride immediately, unloaded it and it's closed right now."

On its website, the operating company Amusements of America said that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball had become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company's description of the ride said it swings riders 12 metres above the midway, while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

KMG Europe BV, the Dutch company that manufactures dozens of rides including Fire Ball, released a statement about the Ohio incident on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon.

The statement says that the company is "currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances …"

It also says that the company offers "deepest sympathies" to all those involved or affected.

KMG said in an email to The Associated Press there are 43 such rides around the world, including 11 in the United States. The ride was built in 1998.

Ride inspectors did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they conducted their inspections and cleared the Fire Ball for passengers, Daniels of Ohio's Agriculture Department said on Wednesday. All the rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure they are set up the way the manufacturer intended, he said.

"We started out today with 11 rides that did not open because the inspection work was not done on them," said Daniels. Four rides will not be operating because they do not meet the mechanical test, he said.

Michael Vartorella, the Department of Agriculture's chief inspector of amusement ride safety, said the incident "hits us really hard" and that inspections are usually thorough.

"Our guys do not rush through this stuff, we look at it, we take care of it, and we pretend it's our own."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture records provided Thursday to AP show passing marks on inspections of about three dozen items, including cracks, brakes, proper assembly and installation of the Fire Ball ride.

The operating company, Amusements of America, submitted records of regular inspections and maintenance performed, as well as ride testing by an outside company.

With files from CBC News and Reuters


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