COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Two Ohio brothers are taking on the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ride Inspection Program. They say it used to be a model program. The Bates brothers recently invited NBC4 to their Wintersville facility for a behind-the-scenes look at their operation.
Eric and Geary Bates have been in business for 52 years. They said they’re the biggest portable ride provider in Ohio and one of largest ride manufacturers in the state.
They said they brought up concerns about Ohio’s Ride Inspection Program to the ODA before the Fireball accident at the Ohio State Fair happened this summer.
The Bates brothers said the ODA and ride industry used to work together, but not anymore.
“They don’t want to listen,” said Geary with Bates Amusement Inc. “The department needs to change.”
Geary sat on the original Ride Safety Advisory Board more than 20 years ago. It was created to address safety and other concerns.
The brothers said not one person from the portable ride industry sits on the board today. They said that hurts the public.
“Can anything be prevented? Yes, and it can be prevented if we review this ride program from top to bottom,” said Geary.
Two weeks ago, the Advisory Board said it was working on appointing a member from the ride industry.
Geary keeps a broken bolt from one of his Ferris wheels on his desk as a reminder anything can happen.
“This thing snapped in half and it could have been a catastrophe, but I keep it right there to remind this old man that I don’t care daily how much work you do, there’s always a possibility,” said Geary.
Eric said they won’t stop talking until somebody listens.
“So many of the honchos, they’re just trying to sweep this all under the rug. I can’t change it and they can’t make it go away and I won’t go away,” he said.