1 killed, 7 injured in Ohio State Fair ride malfunction

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1 killed, 7 injured in Ohio State Fair ride malfunction (Fire Ball ride at Ohio State Fair)

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.

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Five of the injured were in critical condition and the other two were described as stable 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 Wednesday evening at the Ohio State Fair shows the Fire Ball 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. Screams are heard as passengers are thrown to the ground.

"The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Officials said the man who was killed was one of several people who were thrown to the ground when the ride malfunctioned. They have not released his name. Three of the injured remained in critical condition late Wednesday.

Officials did not know what caused the ride to break apart, saying the investigation was ongoing.

"Of course we want to get to the bottom of this," Kasich said, noting that there could be things to be learned that could help other fairs and amusement parks. "Make no mistake about it, it's a very, very sad night for all of us."

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

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



Amusements of America did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Ride inspectors did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they conducted their inspections and cleared the Fire Ball for passengers, said Director of Agriculture David Daniels. All of the rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure they are set up the way the manufacturer intended, he said.

"We started out today with 11 rides that did not open because the inspection work was not done on them," said Daniels. Four rides will not be operating because they do not meet the mechanical test, he said.

Officials said none of the rides would be open until they are all fully inspected.

"Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night's tragic accident," the fair said early Thursday morning in a statement posted on its Twitter page. "We have shut down all rides until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe."

The Ohio State Fair, which is one of the largest state fairs in the U.S., runs through Aug. 6.

"Amusements of America" provided rides for the North Carolina State Fair in the early 2000s.

A different company was involved with the Vortex accident at the fair grounds in 2013 that malfunctioned and hurled people off the ride, seriously injuring several of them.

State Fair ride owner enters plea, will serve 30 days

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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