Ohio State Fair says safety is at the forefront as ride inspections begin

Local News

COLUMBUS (AP/WCMH) – State officials are working to reassure visitors the 2018 Ohio State Fair will be safe after a catastrophic ride failure left an 18-year-old dead and seven others injured last year.

Meeting with reporters Monday, David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said ride manufacturers have implemented additional testing and are providing more information about detecting corrosion. 

Daniels said entire Amusement Ride Safety Office has been moved to the fairgrounds to assist inspectors. Additionally, the office will perform an increased schedule of supplemental ride inspections and daily operational spot checks.

The changes come one year after one person was killed and seven others injured when the Fireball ride broke apart on the first day of the 2017 State Fair.

The company that provides the rides, Amusements of America says it too has added a new layer of testing.  Spokeswoman Jill Walls says that after last year’s fair, “we hired certified, non-destructive materials testers to thoroughly analyze and assess every one of our rides.”

State ride inspection supervisor Mike Vartorella says state inspectors go over each ride using specific manufacturers criteria. They look at not only the structures and the systems but also the operational procedures.

“We’re going to be making sure that the operators are checking heights, we’re going to be making sure we’re watching the systems, the enable buttons and the start buttons and everybody’s in the right place and where they need to be,” Vartorella said.

Some fair-goers are likely to be thinking back about last year’s Fireball tragedy but for the inspectors and the operators, the focus is on safety – now and in the future. “This was a previously undetectable problem so how we move forward is by making sure we do everything that we can do to take that information and improve,” Walls said.

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