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1 dead, 7 injured after ride malfunctions at Ohio State Fair

A swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball malfunctioned and broke apart on the opening day of the fair.
Authorities stand near the Fire Ball amusement ride after the ride malfunctioned injuring several at the Ohio State Fair, Wednesday, July 26, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jim Woods/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

One person was killed and other seven were injured after a ride malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair.

A swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball malfunctioned and broke apart on the opening day of the fair. In a release posted on its Facebook page by KMG product manager Albert Koon, all rides similar to Fire Ball created by KMG were ordered to cease operation. The release expressed its sympathies to all involved.

Five of the injured were taken to either Wexner Medical Center or Grant Medical Center in critical condition. The remaining injured were taken to local hospitals in stable condition.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Tragedy at the Ohio State Fair

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, was pronounced dead at the fairgrounds, according to a media release. Jarrell signed up to join the United States Marine Corps on July 21, according to Sgt. Caitlin Brink, Marketing and Public Affairs Chief for the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Charleston.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to Poolee Tyler Jarrell’s family and all of those affected by his loss. The Marines here are greatly saddened by this tragedy. We are truly proud to have known him as one of the brave few willing to step up and serve his country in the United States Marine Corps," Brink said in a statement. He was scheduled to attend basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, June 18, 2018. He wanted to be in the Infantry or serve as a combat engineer."

According to Columbus Police Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan, Jarrell was a Columbus Police Explorer. "He was a person who, at a young age, was committed to public service."

Others injured include:

  • Tamika Dunlap, 36, of Reynoldsburg
  • Russell Franks, 42, of Columbus
  • Keziah Lewis, 19, of Columbus
  • Jacob Andrews, 22, of Pataskala
  • Jennifer Lambert, 18, of Columbus
  • Abdihakim Hussein, 19, of Columbus
  • And a 14-year-old male whose name is being withheld at the request of the family

The Wexner Medical Center released the following statement on behalf of the families being treated there:

“We want to thank the community for its outpouring of concern for our loved ones who are being treated at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. We appreciate all of your prayers, and we are keeping those who were injured and died in our prayers as well. As we focus our attention on the long healing process, we are asking media and the community to respect our privacy during this very difficult time. We are declining media requests for interviews at this time. Thank you.”

Video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground.

A company providing rides at the fair this year describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill ride."

On its website, Amusements of America says that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company description of the ride says it swings riders 40 feet above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

The company posted a message online reading: "Our family owned company is committed to working with state and local experts in trying to determine the cause of this tragic accident. The ride was inspected by our staff as well as independent inspectors prior to opening at the Ohio State Fair. We are keeping those impacted by this tragic situation in our prayers and cooperating with those investigating this accident."

Gov. John Kasich ordered a full investigation and also ordered that all rides be shut down at the fair until additional safety inspections can be completed.

Director of Agriculture David Daniels says all of rides are checked several times when they're being set up to ensure they're set up the way the manufacturer intended.

Officials say the Fire Ball ride was inspected at a couple of different stages and was signed off Wednesday.

The accident prompted California State Fair officials to shut down the Fire Ball ride there. Barry Schaible, an inspector with a company hired by the fair, told KCRA-TV in Sacramento, "We shut down the ride immediately, unloaded it and it's closed right now."

Gov. Kasich was at the fair Thursday and said the rides would be closed but the fair would go on Thursday. The Midway remained closed. All rides would be shuttered until the Ohio Department of Agriculture completed inspections of all rides. Kasich said the team worked through the night -- on the ground -- to inspect rides.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is also investigating. It estimates there were 30,900 injuries associated with amusement attractions last year that required an emergency room visit.

It said there have been at least 22 fatalities associated with amusement attractions.