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Charges Possible in State Fair Incident

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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While Ohio authorities haven’t yet released the final findings of their investigation, new reports indicate that it’s possible the operators of the Fire Ball ride, which broke apart last month mid-ride due to apparent corrosion, could face criminal charges in addition to a wrongful death lawsuit.

WBNS-10TV, based in Columbus, reported Friday (Aug. 25) that the Ohio Highway Patrol’s investigation into the fatal incident is nearly complete, and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office will review the Highway Patrol’s report and determine whether charges are warranted.

Deadly Incident

Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed in the July 26 incident, and seven others were injured when one of the Fire Ball ride’s gondolas broke from its arm while the ride was revolving. KMG International BV, the Dutch manufacturer of the ride, concluded that the failure was a result of “excessive corrosion” that had eaten away at the beam over a period of years.

Fire Ball
Images: NAFLIC Technical Bulletin

KMG International BV, the Dutch manufacturer of the ride, concluded that the failure was a result of “excessive corrosion.”

A global amusement-ride organization then issued a technical bulletin calling for the inspection of any such ride, which is also called the After Burner. The National Association for Leisure Industry Certification, based in the U.K., said in the bulletin that it is “understood that an ingress of water occurs during the transport and storage that leads to the corrosion.”

According to WBNS, Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien says criminal charges could be filed if the investigation shows that the ride’s operator showed “perverse disregard for risk.”

At the same time, Jarrell’s family has retained a Columbus law firm, Kitrick, Lewis & Harris, to pursue a wrongful-death lawsuit in relation to the incident. The firm is working with an accident reconstruction firm to attempt to better understand the incident, and is working with state and local authorities as they investigate.

The Fire Ball was operated by Amusements of America, a company that travels throughout the country setting up amusement attractions.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Corrosion; Health and safety

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