On July 26th, tragedy struck the Ohio State Fair when a ride collapsed, killing one person and injuring seven others. As the ride was in motion, a row of seats broke off and crashed beside the ride. The fair released a statement soon after stating that they have shut down all of the rides until they are all fully inspected and deemed to be safe.
After the inspection, it was revealed that the cause of the accident was due to excessive corrosion which led the arm of the ride to break off. According to CNN, “the entire structure moves like a pendulum.” The ride spins six rows of seats around and around, 40 feet above the ground.
A video was filmed at the exact moment that the ride breaks and shows the seats being severed from the rest of the ride. Rhonda Burgess, who is a witness that was present at the time said, “The ride had four riders per cart. This piece snapped off and the riders came out of the cart…At least two (people) flew through the air at least 20 feet before landing on their backs on the concrete.”
The product manager, Albert Kroon, released a statement in which he stated that the “excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam dangerously reduced the beam’s wall thickness over the years.”
Kroon said that this internal corrosion “finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation.”
The ride, called The Fire Ball, had been in service for 18 years and had made its rounds from fair to fair every year. Though it seems old, the ride didn’t show any signs of corrosion.
In fact, the ride had passed all of its mandatory visual inspections. Upon further examination of the ride, it was clear that the corrosion wouldn’t have been seen even with a more technical inspection.
So how could they ever have known there was a problem? According to industry experts, only ultrasound scans would have been able to detect the corrosion and they are expensive.
The deceased is Tyler Jarrell, an 18-year-old from Columbus, Ohio. Jarrell had just enlisted in the Marines. The others who were injured were either injured on the ride or by the flying debris once the ride broke apart.
CNN notes that there were an estimated 30,900 amusement attraction-related injuries who made a trip to the emergency room in 2016 alone.
Furthermore, in the last 7 years, 22 of the total number of emergency room visits related to amusement parks have ended in fatalities.