Corrosion of ride caused deadly Ohio State Fair accident, manufacturer says

"Excessive corrosion" is to blame after an Ohio State Fair ride broke apart July 26, killing one person and injuring seven others, an investigation by the ride manufacturer showed.

Michael Vartorella, Ohio's chief inspector of amusement ride safety, said the Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened.

The ride's manufacturer, KMG, announced investigation results Sunday, almost two weeks after the accident.

Albert Kroon, product manager for the Dutch company behind the ride, said in a statement that investigators determined that "excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years".

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They said deterioration on a gondola caused the almost two-decade-old "Fire Ball" ride to fail, detach and send several passengers airborne. "On the Afterburner in OH we did the maintenance until a few years ago", Kroon said at the time. Kroon also shared that the company has vowed to "develop an inspection protocol" in order to prevent future tragedies.

Almost two weeks after an "aggressive thrill" ride broke into pieces with passengers still on it, killing one rider and injuring several others, investigators believe they know what might have caused the Fire Ball to break apart: age and corrosion. Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said that Jarrell died of blunt force trauma injuries to the head, trunk and lower extremities.

Two days after the incident and government ordered shutdown, the state fair reopened "low impact" rides and its "Kiddieland". At the Ohio State Fair in July, the ride disintegrated in midair, sending passengers flying. The Associated Press reports that Jarrell, a Columbus native, was enrolled for basic training in the summer of 2018.

Jarrell's family is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. Sunday was the fair's last day.

  • Adam Floyd