Maker identifies cause in deadly ride malfunction at Ohio State Fair

Published: Sunday, August 06, 2017 @ 2:43 PM
Updated: Sunday, August 06, 2017 @ 6:28 PM

GRAPHIC IMAGES: Footage from Ohio State Fair accident

Excessive corrosion caused a metal arm to break on the Fire Ball ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair, the Netherlands-based ride manufacturer KMG said in a statement today.

MORE: Ohio State Fair tragedy: What happened?

The incident killed 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell and injured seven others who were on the ride when it broke on the fair’s opening day.

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Cause of accident with Ohio State Fair ride revealed

MORE: Ohio spends $1.17M to inspect amusement rides

The statement said KMG officials traveled to the accident scene in Columbus to review video footage of the July 26 accident and conduct metallurgical tests of the beam.

"It was determined that excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam dangerously reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years," the statement said. "This finally led to a catastrophic failure of the ride during operation."

The company said the spinning and swinging ride called the Fire Ball was 18 years old.

Tyler Jarrell died of blunt force trauma injuries after being tossed 50 feet (15 meters) into the air when the ride broke apart. He was about to begin his senior year in high school and had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps the week before he was killed.

MORE: Ohio State Fair tragedy could spark changes 

A law firm representing the family of the man who died, Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus announced it would “investigate the incident and handle the wrongful death case,” according to a news release from Kitrick, Lewis & Harris of Columbus.

MORE: Teen killed at Ohio State Fair had just joined U.S. Marines 

The Ohio Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

The Fire Ball ride had been inspected the day of the accident and no problems had been found. 

A ride safety advocate is calling for greater transparency in inspection reports on rides that pass through the state of Ohio or are located in amusement parks.  

“I think Ohio needs to establish a database of every amusement ride in the state and have that database accessible to the general public,” said Ken Martin, a Virginia-based ride consultant and owner of KRM Consulting. 

Spokesmen for Ohio’s legislative leadership say they will wait until investigators determine what happened.  

“At this point, we trust that the ongoing professional investigation will bring conclusive findings, and it’s important that we allow that to happen first,” said John Fortney, press secretary for state Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Medina.  

“Until more details from the investigation are brought forward, it is too early to speculate on what, if any, future actions should be taken,” said Brad Miller, press secretary for Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Authorities stand near the Fire Ball amusement ride after the ride malfunctioned injuring several at the Ohio State Fair, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. Some of the victims were thrown from the ride when it malfunctioned Wednesday night, said Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin. (Jim Woods/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)(Jim Woods/AP)