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18-year-old killed on Ohio State Fair ride was a Marine recruit

Fair victim's girlfriend in critical condition
Posted at 2:18 PM, Jul 27, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The 18-year-old killed on the Fire Ball ride at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday night was a U.S. Marine recruit who hoped to "help the whole nation," according to a friend.

Tyler Jarrell, who had enlisted just five days before the ride malfunction claimed his life, was scheduled to attend basic training at Parris Island in South Carolina next summer, Marine Corps Public Affairs Chief Sgt. Caitlin Brink said in a statement. He planned to become a combat engineer.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Poolee Tyler Jarrell's family and all those affected by his loss," Brink said. "The Marines are greatly saddened by this tragedy. We are truly proud to have known him as one of the brave few willing to step up and serve his country in the U.S. Marine Corps."

Dillon Evans, who attended Franklin Heights High School with Jarrell, said he heard about the tragedy as soon as it happened but did not immediately know his friend had been involved. 

"When I heard that, my heart just dropped," he said. "I first started thinking about the family, and then it hit me, well, my friend is gone."

State officials said the "Fire Ball" ride had been inspected earlier in the day before it "malfunctioned" at 7:24 p.m. Videos initially posted on Twitter, showed part of the ride breaking off mid-swing and throwing riders, including Jarrell and his girlfriend, 19-year-old Keziah Lewis, through the air.

Lewis remains hospitalized in critical condition.

RELATED: Authorities to do 'autopsy' on deadly fair ride

In addition to Jarrell and Lewis, both of Columbus, six other people were injured: Tamika Dunlap, 36, of Reynoldsburg; Russell Franks, 42, of Columbus; Jacob Andrews, 22, of Pataskala; Jennifer Lambert, 18, of Columbus; Abdihakim Hussein, 19, of Columbus; and a 14-year-old male victim whose name will not be released.

Dr. David Evans of OSU Medical Center, which received three patients from the incident, said "multiple passengers were ejected at high speed" from the ride, traveled at least 20-30 feet and then "crashed at a significant distance from the ride."

"The fair is about the best things in life, and then tonight with this accident, it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Wednesday night.

Kasich ordered all rides at the fair be shut down pending inspections.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was investigating the incident. Ride inspectors with the Ohio Department of Agriculture were also working to inspect all the rides again, department Director David Daniels said.

RELATED: Witness: I watched man die on fair ride

All "amusement rides" in Ohio must be inspected and licensed by the state Department of Agriculture by law. The state issues annual permits to ride owners after successful inspections. 

Read more about the inspection process.

Evans said despite his community's collective mourning, he believed Jarrell's legacy would be more than sadness: It would be the drive to keep living despite challenges and hard times.

"He wanted to join the Marines because he felt like he could do something better with his life and help others in a bigger way rather than just his community," Evans said. "He felt like he could help the whole nation."