Nearly 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.
KMG, the manufacturer of the Fire Ball ride, announced Sunday that an investigation — which including an inspection of the ride and review of video footage of the July 26 incident — found that “excessive corrosion” played a part in the 18 year old ride falling apart while it was in motion.
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.”
“This finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation,” Kroon said, noting that it eventually resulted in the passenger-carrying gondola to detach from the supporting sweep arm of the ride.
A Tragic Ride
The Fire Ball broke into pieces just before 7:20 p.m. July 26, the opening night of the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, flinging several passengers into the air.
One rider, an 18-year-old man, was flung more than 50 feet and died on impact, while seven others were taken to area hospitals.
Amusements of America, the fairground vendor, describes the Fire Ball as a “spectacular,” “aggressive thrill” ride that swings riders more than 40 feet into the air and spins them at 13 revolutions per minute.
Despite the manufacturer’s claims, previous reports from the Cleveland.com note that the ride had been inspected at least three times both by state officials and a third party, and was cleared for operation when the fair was set up prior to opening.
Kroon, the product manager, wrote that KMG has collaborated with industry safety experts to “develop an inspection protocol” in order to prevent future incidents from occurring.
Following the ride’s malfunction, officials with the Ohio State Fair shut down other rides. Those were reopened days later after they were re-inspected, Cleveland.com reports.