COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A state panel has recommended another look at the ride inspection process and public perception of ride safety nearly six months after a deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair.
Ride operators described the accident as a “black eye” for the industry during a Thursday meeting of the Ohio Advisory Board on Amusement Ride Safety.
The Fire Ball ride broke apart at the State Fair in July, flinging a four-passenger carriage into the air, killing 18-year-old high school student Tyler Jarrell and injuring seven people.
Dutch manufacturer KMG said the cause was excessive corrosion of a support beam. State officials said the Fire Ball had been inspected just hours before the crash. KMG asked all owners of similar rides to shut them down pending an investigation. The ride at the Ohio State Fair was 18 years old, the company said.
Lawsuits filed by accident victims are pending. Jarrell was a rising senior at Franklin Heights High School and had enlisted in the Marine Corps just a few days before his death.
In a report released in December, the state Department of Agriculture said it would not fine the operators of the Fire Ball. Chief inspector Michael Vartorella said in the report that Amusements of America “was in compliance with the requirements of Ohio law.”
Agriculture department Deputy Director John Schlichter declined to discuss the report or details about the Fire Ball accident during Thursday’s meeting.
Bill Prowant, vice chair of the advisory board, suggested at the meeting that a new committee review the negative perception surrounding amusement rides.
“The season is approaching very fast,” Prowant said. “Right now ... we’ve got issues.”
The board would be comprised of ride industry officials and others approved by the state agriculture department.
An agriculture department spokesman said the agency’s director will review the committee’s recommendation.