Ohio State Fair reopens after 18-year-old’s death, rides closed for inspections – ABC News
The Ohio State Fair is open today but its rides are closed for inspections after 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell was killed and seven more injured Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Tyler’s father, Anthony Jarrell, told ABC News, “He was loved and had a future, until the disaster at the Ohio fair. My question is who [is] responsible for not doing their job of inspecting the rides?”
The seven people also injured at the state fair ride in Columbus, Ohio, have been identified by authorities: Tamika Dunlap, 36; Russell Franks, 42; Keziah Lewis, 19; Jacob Andrews, 22; Jennifer Lambert, 18; and Abdihakim Hussein, 19. A 14-year-old boy was wounded but his name has not been publicly released.
Three people were listed in critical condition today and one was listed in serious condition. The other two injured were released from the hospital.
All rides at the fair have been shut down “until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe,” fair officials tweeted.
The Marine Corps said Jarrell, of Columbus, enlisted with the Marines last week and was scheduled to attend basic training next year.
“He wanted to be in the Infantry or serve as a combat engineer,” the Marine Corps said. “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Tyler Jarrell’s family and all of those affected by his loss. The Marines here 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.”
At a news conference this morning, Ohio Gov. John Kasich called the incident a “nightmare,” but still encouraged Ohioans to visit the fair.
“We will pull together and come through this, and we will have an even stronger fair as a result,” Kasich said.
The governor said he would not speculate on the cause of the incident.
According to amusement ride operator Amusements of America, the Fire Ball swings riders 40 feet into the air while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.
“Our family owned company is committed to working with state and local experts in trying to determine the cause of this tragic accident,” Amusements of America said. “The ride was inspected by our staff as well as independent inspectors prior to opening at the Ohio State Fair. We are keeping those impacted by this tragic situation in our prayers and cooperating with those investigating this accident.”
Robert W. Johnson, president of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, said the incident happened despite inspections.
“The Fire Ball was being operated by one of the most respected and long established companies in our industry and was designed and manufactured by a leading international maker of amusement rides,” Johnson said in a statement today. “This incident took place despite multiple independent inspections of the ride and only a full and complete investigation can identify the issues or issues that led to this tragedy.”
KMG International B.V., the Netherlands-based ride manufacturer, said in a statement, “Our deepest sympathies go out to all who were involved or affected by this tragic accident. We are currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident.”
The operators of this ride and similar rides are instructed to stop operations until further notice, the statement added.
Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators have been at the scene since the deadly incident was reported at 7:24 p.m. Wednesday.
Julian Bellinger was waiting in line for the ride and witnessed the accident. He shared his video recording with ABC News.
“The people that were working it had pressed the emergency brake. And in the video you see it go up, and when it came back down, a piece had fell,” Bellinger told “GMA” today.
He said he then saw people fall out and he turned his head. “I couldn’t watch it,” he said.
“People were running away, crying,” he continued. “You just don’t expect to see stuff like that, especially at the fair.”
Britney Neal, 16, was next in line with her sister when the incident occurred.
She saw several people fall and it looked like they were making a “face before death,” she said.
“They knew they were hitting the ground,” she told ABC News. “Every time I close my eyes I can see the image.”
Neal said she felt “truly traumatized. I grabbed my sister right away. I said, ‘That could’ve been us.'”
Her sister, Kiley Neal, 13, told ABC News, “I didn’t think it was real. To see that — their shoes falling off, one of their legs twisted and them hitting the ground, and all the noises, just gives us nightmares.”
David Daniels of the Ohio Department of Agriculture said the department inspects rides every day, adding that 11 rides at the fair did not open on Wednesday because they were not inspected. He said four rides were not operating because they did not meet the requirements of a mechanical test.
Kasich said Wednesday that the Fire Ball had been inspected multiple times by a third-party inspector.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s chief inspector of amusement ride safety, Mike Vartorella, said inspectors have been present at the fair since last Wednesday. An inspection of the Fire Ball would include evaluating connections and hydraulics. Vartorella said the Fire Ball had been inspected three to four times over the previous two days.
Records show the Fire Ball ride was used in New Jersey several weeks ago.
After the deadly incident, similar rides throughout the country were shut down as a precaution.
The Monmouth County Fair in New Jersey immediately shut down a ride similar to the Ohio State Fair’s Fire Ball after the incident, ABC station WABC in New York reported. A similar ride at the Orange County Fair in California was also shut down to undergo a re-inspection after the Ohio incident, ABC station KABC in Los Angeles said.
North American Midway Entertainment, which is not a provider of the Ohio State Fair rides, said in a statement that “due to the tragic incident … we will keep all our Fire Ball rides closed until further notice from the manufacturer for precautionary safety measures.”
The Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by the tragic accident at the Ohio State Fair. As the investigation into the cause of this accident continues, the Indiana State Fair and North American Midway Entertainment have made the decision to not operate the Fireball at the 2017 Indiana State Fair.”
The Illinois Department of Labor said it is also suspending the operation of all rides similar to the Fire Ball until further notice.
A spokesperson from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) told ABC News the agency has an investigator at the Ohio State Fair.
The CPSC said it is aware of 22 deaths associated with amusement attractions since 2010 including Wednesday’s incident, but excluding water park and work-related fatalities.
The CPSC estimates there were 30,900 injuries “associated with amusement attractions” at emergency rooms in 2016 — a 14.2 percent increase since 2013, which saw 27,054 such injuries.
ABC News’ Alex Perez, Andy Fies, Jason Volack, Erin Dooley, Dominick Proto, Karma Allen and Matt Foster contributed to this report.