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Spinning Ohio State Fair ride breaks apart; 1 dead, 7 hurt

COLUMBUS, Ohio -  A swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball malfunctioned and broke apart on the opening day of the Ohio State fair on Wednesday, hurling people through the air, killing at least one and injuring seven others.

 

 

Five of the injured were in critical condition and the other two were in stable condition at area hospitals, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said. The man who was killed was one of several who were thrown when the ride malfunctioned, Martin said.

Dramatic video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground.

A company providing rides at the fair this year describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill" ride.

On its website, Amusements of America says that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company description of the ride says it swings riders 40 feet (12 meters) above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

The company did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

In a statement, Republican Gov. John Kasich said he was "terribly saddened by this accident, by the loss of life and that people were injured enjoying Ohio's fair."

Kasich said he has ordered a full investigation and also ordered that all fair rides be shut down until additional safety inspections can be completed.

The fair did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. In a post on its Twitter page it said: "There has been a report of a ride incident. We are investigating and will report information as available."

The Ohio State Fair runs through Aug. 6.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has released this information:

We have received 3 patients at our hospital. Medical teams are assessing and treating their injuries.

We value the support of the community as we attend to those who need immediate assistance. We will provide further updates as information becomes available.

The malfunction happened Wednesday evening. Officials have confirmed that the  ride that malfunctioned is the Fireball.

This is breaking news. Fox 8 and Fox8.com will have updates as they become available.

The Ohio State Fair runs through August 6.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:03 pm

A doctor is holding a press conference about the trauma efforts at area hospitals after the accident. 

Most of the victims will be in the hospital at least a week.

No more victims this evening are being brought in by EMS.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:03 pm

Many of the injuries are orthopedic.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:03 pm

All trauma hospitals were notified when the accident call came in.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:05 pm

One person is now in surgery. The injuries are being called serious by the doctors at Wexner.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:08 pm

The doctor says that being able to actually see the video of the accident was a help in treating the victims. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:08 pm

He saw the video that was circulating on social media. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:21 pm

Governor Kasich, The OS Highway Patrol and the Dept. of Agriculture are now updating the public on the accident:

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:21 pm

Colonel Paul Pride with the OSHP : prayers are with victims 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:22 pm

at 7 p.m. trooper reported that ride had malfunctioned.

One person is deceased. 7 others are injured. 3 are in critical. They have all been taken to local hospitals. They are still trying to reach family members.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:23 pm

They are working with Columbus police and fire and Agriculture Dept. OSHP provides security and investigates accidents at state-owned property.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:24 pm

Dir. David Daniels, OH Dept of Agriculture: minutes after learning of the incident, Governor ordered the rides at the fair shut down. 

All rides will be given a complete review.

Dept of Agriculture is responsible for ride inspections.

The rides are checked thoroughly and several times a day.

In fact, 11 rides did not open today right away because inspections weren’t finished. They do not rush their inspections.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:25 pm

Reinspections will be done through the night and tomorrow. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:25 pm

They plan on reopening them after that.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:26 pm

Governor Kasich: this is a tough night for the people of our state because of the loss of our citizens. It’s hard to imagine that you have family that goes to a state fair and those calls come and there was a terrible accident/tragedy and someone you love was involved.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:26 pm

The fair is about the best things in life and tonight it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:27 pm

I wanted to know what we were doing with rides. So we shut them all down.

We have an inspector here who inspects rides at fair and across the state. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:27 pm

This particular ride was inspected multiple times. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:28 pm

We will have some records available this evening to show how the ride was inspected. We are concerned about this situation here in the Buckeye State but there may be things that can be learned that will help others in other states.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:28 pm

I will be at the fair tomorrow and walk through the grounds. I want to be able to speak with the victims and their families.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:28 pm

The fair will be open. The rides will not open until they are re-inspected.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:29 pm

Mike Vartarella, Chief Inspector for Ride Safety, OH D of Agriculture: 

we look at these rides at different stages. they come in on trucks. We look at them before they go up, as they go up, when they’re up and then we run them.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:30 pm

We’re looking at about 4300 pieces of equipment in Ohio. From permanent parks, go karts, etc.

A tragedy like this hits us really hard. My grandchildren ride these. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:31 pm

This ride is what’s called a  ‘spectacular’ piece. It comes in on different trucks. We make sure it’s level, electrically sound, hydraulically sound. We look at anything the manufacturer tells us to.

Every day we do pre-opening inspections. We have a third party do them as well.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:31 pm

The standard is a pass/fail as a whole. 

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:32 pm

Kasich: eleven rides didn’t open today because of the inspection failure. as the day went on, all but 4 were cleared.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:33 pm

We will investigate fully. And it will be transparent for everyone to understand what happened.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:33 pm

There is no guarantee – mechanical or structural damage may not be visible.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:35 pm

Kasich: as soon as we heard, I knew we had to shut it all down.  

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:37 pm

Kasich: there are accidents that occur in these parks. you can’t say that nothing will happen. We rely on people to ensure public safety. People have to use their judgements. This is the worst tragedy in the history of the fair. We’ll move on, but we will grieve what happened.

Ann Domeck July 26, 201710:37 pm

The ride was signed off on today after being inspected in a couple of different stages.