An 18-year-old Ohio man was killed Wednesday evening when the Fire Ball ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart in mid-air, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Seven people were also injured in the incident.
The victims were transported to local hospitals and at least three are in critical condition.
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.
Fair officials said that rides will remain closed as safety inspections continue, and those who purchased wristbands can receive refunds.
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 “Fireball” and similar rides are instructed to stop operations until further notice, the statement added.
An official with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said its investigators have been at the scene since the deadly incident was reported at 7:24 p.m. Wednesday.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s chief inspector of amusement ride safety said inspectors have been present at the fair since last Wednesday. An inspection of the Fire Ball would include evaluating connections and hydraulics.The Fire Ball had apparently been inspected three to four times over the previous two days.
Wednesday marked the first day of the fair, which is scheduled to run through Aug. 6, according to the fair’s website.
Other similar rides throughout the country are being 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. A similar ride at the Orange County Fair in California was also shut down to undergo a re-inspection after the Ohio incident.
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.
There is a lot of pressure placed on state fairs and carnivals to get rides set up in a short amount of time. Because of this time constraint, those setting up can neglect what matters the most – keeping people safe.