Ride safety concerns now getting federal attention


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After the introduction of Tyler’s Law in the Ohio House, those who pushed for the bill say they now have their sights set on Washington.

Tyler’s Law is named after Tyler Jarrell, the 18-year-old killed when the Fireball broke apart in the air at last year’s Ohio State Fair. It would require the Ohio Department of Agriculture to implement more ride safety rules.

Jarrell’s mother, Amber Duffield, and her legal team say the entire ride industry needs to be overhauled on the federal level. With the introduction of Tyler’s law, they’re ready to take their fight to Congress. We spoke with U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman about if they think enough is being done to protect riders.

“We were all astounded when Tyler Jarrell was killed at of all places, the Ohio State Fair,” said Senator Sherrod Brown.

“We all assume these rides are safe and they must be safe, so I think this year there’s going to be a lot more inspections,” said Senator Rob Portman.

With the first Ohio county fair now less than five weeks away, we asked the Senators if they’re confident rides are safe.

“I sure hope it’s going to be a safer season this year and I believe it will be. I think people have taken it seriously,” said Sen. Portman.

“They’ve all assured us things are safe, but I don’t have any way of knowing that and I think it’s important the media keep the light shine,” said Sen. Brown.

The ride industry isn’t federally regulated and every state has different rules. Senators Brown and Portman say they don’t have any immediate plans to introduce Federal ride safety legislation.

Senator Brown does support federal rules.

“This whole view that you’ve got to deregulate, weaken regulations, they’re just wrong and that’s why these are so important here,” he said.

Senator Portman says in response to the accident, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently involved in developing new voluntary safety standards.

“They have actually now begun the process of developing new standards, we’re told on internal corrosion, on these kinds of rides and we expect in October that they’re going to have a report where they should be making recommendations,” he said.

The Senators say they’re hopeful Ohio has learned from its mistakes.

“I think the state government will pay a lot more attention. I think it was a failure all the way around,” said Sen. Brown.

“What a tragedy. It just can’t happen again,” said Sen. Portman.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture which runs Ohio’s ride inspection program says its made some changes its program since the accident. It says inspectors are now keeping even more detailed inspection records and will likely adopt in whole or in part new voluntary safety standards currently being debated.

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