Rides reopen at Ohio State Fair after fatality

Posted at 10:26 AM, Jul 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-30 11:03:12-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Rides in the Ohio State Fair's midway reopened as normal Sunday, after a deadly mishap killed one man and injured seven other people last week.

Gov. John Kasich had ordered all rides at the state fair be shut down pending additional inspections after the incident.

Kiddieland, the SkyGlider and the Giant Slide already reopened Friday afternoon, after passing additional inspections.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, died when a piece of the swinging and spinning Fire Ball ride snapped during the fair's opening night Wednesday. State officials said the ride had been inspected earlier in the day before it "malfunctioned" at 7:24 p.m. A video posted online showed part of the ride breaking off mid-swing and throwing riders through the air.


The Fire Ball dates back to 2002, according to ride operator Amusements of America's website. It "swings riders 40' above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute," the website states.

Jarrell was thrown about 50 feet and pronounced dead on the midway. A coroner said he died from blunt force trauma.

His family is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jarrell would have been a high school senior. He enlisted as a U.S. Marine recruit five days before he died and 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.


Jarrell's girlfriend, University of Cincinnati student Keziah Lewis, also was on the Fire Ball when it broke apart. She was seriously injured. Lewis doesn't remember the accident and has pelvis, ankle and rib injuries, her mother told The Columbus Dispatch. She underwent one surgery and faces a second.

"She kept asking for her boyfriend," Clarissa Williams said. "I had to tell her he was the one who was deceased."

RELATED: UC student watched boyfriend die at fair

The Dutch manufacturer of the Fire Ball ordered similar rides to shut down worldwide.

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.

An Ohio Department of Agriculture "standard inspection" form dated Wednesday showed that inspectors had not found any problems with Fire Ball earlier in the day. Officials issued a state permit for the ride to operator Amusements of America the same day.

Amusements of America co-owner John Vivona told WCMH-TV in Columbus the company is "devastated." He’s convinced the Fire Ball incident was a mechanical failure and not a problem with the ride’s operators or inspections.

The state fair runs through Aug. 6.