COLUMBUS- The Ohio State Fair opens Wednesday, one year after a young man was killed and several others severely injured when a ride literally broke apart and fell to the ground. Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed when the gondola on the Fire Ball ride snapped off and flung riders into the air and then slammed them to the ground in front of spectators. His mother said going to the fair on opening day was a family tradition.
"It's something we had done every year since he was four year's old," said Amber Duffield, Jarrell's mother.
Lawmaker are calling for change in regulations and even though there are more ride inspections, a similar rise in staff and funding has not happened. Ohio's inspectors are responsible for checking rides at 51 go-kart tracks, 362 portable companies such as fairs and festivals and 149 permanent companies including two large amusement parks, Kings island and Cedar Point.
"I'm concerned for the safety of the people who are riding the rides," said State. Rep. Jim Hughes, R-Columbus.
Hughes is co-sponsoring a bill, known as Tyler's Law, in hopes of improving ride safety. Duffield said she is supporting the bill because she doesn't want any other families to suffer the tragedy her family has faced.
"What are we going to do to make it better?" said Duffield.
However, because of an extended summer recess, the bill will not likely see any action in the Ohio House for months and not before most of Ohio's fairs and festivals are over. Tyler's Law House bill 631, allows fines of up to $500 for failing to keep mandated inspection records, beef up training requirements for ride inspectors, and set a minimum number of inspectors assigned to each ride. Hughes also wants the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which oversees ride inspections, to give hiring preference to professional engineers or those who hold national certification as ride inspectors.
Officials said inspectors cleared the Fire Ball the morning of July 26, 2017 and that Amusements of America, the ride and attractions vendor at the Ohio State Fair, performed a daily inspection and maintenance check. .
Inspectors cleared the Fire Ball on the morning of July 26. Amusements of America, the ride and attractions vendor at the state fair, performed a daily inspection and maintenance check. That afternoon, fair goes watched the horrific sight and many captured video on their cell phones that made local and national newscasts.
KMG, the ride's Dutch manufacturer, found excessive corrosion caused a metal arm to break on the gondola. The Ohio Department of Agriculture decided not to fine Amusements of America and in fact, the company returned to the state fair this year as the rides and attractions vendor.
Settlements with Amusements of America and other third-party vendors were reached with the families of Tyler Jerrell and Jennifer Lambert, a teenager who suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident.
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