Amusement park expert examines video of ride malfunction

Posted at 4:30 AM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 06:47:58-04

CINCINNATI -- When an amusement ride malfunctions, the investigation typically focuses on three possible causes, according to a local expert: ride responsibility, operator error or design/technical.

Dennis Speigel is the president of the Walnut Hills-based International Theme Park Services, a consulting firm to the amusement park industry. He took a look at the bystander video of a ride breaking at the Ohio State Fair, which killed one and injured seven others.

"This is not rider responsibility. This is not operator responsibility," he said. "This is some sort of structural issue."

Speigel said it's too early to definitely say what happened, but he examined the moment in the video when the car with the chairs came off.

"Whether it be fatigue of a bolt or a connection, but that's where it came off, right there," he said.

The manufacturer of the ride, Netherlands-based KMG, is well-known  and respected in the industry, according to Speigel. The company issued a notice Thursday asking owners of similar rides they manufactured to stop running them until an investigation is complete.

Rides go through several layers of inspections, including one that looks for structural issues.

"There's a lot of tension on that ride on every arm," Speigel said.

Speigel said these rides are generally safe, but an accident like the one at the state fair will "send shock waves through the entire industry."

"If we're not safe, we're out of business," he said.