Thrill-seekers flocked to the Ohio State Fair for its opening on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the evening turned tragic as one “aggressive thrill” ride broke to pieces with passengers still on it, killing one rider and critically injuring several others.
The ride in question was the Fire Ball. The local Record-Courier reports that a gondola broke off while the Fire Ball was in motion, flinging several passengers into the air, just before 7:20 p.m.
One rider, an 18-year-old man, was flung more than 50 feet and died on impact, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Seven others were taken to area hospitals. As of early this morning at least two were in critical condition.
A Twitter user apparently captured (graphic and disturbing!) video of the event.
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.
You can see the Fire Ball in action in this 2013 YouTube video taken by a visitor to the California State Fair:
According to Cleveland.com, 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 on Monday and Tuesday in advance of its Wednesday night opening.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement that he has “ordered a full investigation into this incident” and has also ordered all fair rides to be shut down until they pass a new round of safety inspections.
Across the country, local officials in California immediately shut down the Fire Ball ride at the California State Fair upon hearing of the news from Ohio, local NBC affiliate KCRA reports.
An inspector who works at the California fair told KCRA that the ride will stay closed until the Ohio investigation is complete. “As far as I’m concerned, unless the factory calls us and says it can run, it’s down,” he said.