Gov. John Kasich has ordered that all rides at the Ohio State Fair be shut down in the wake of a fatal accident that occurred Wednesday evening.
One person died and seven others were injured when a ride malfunctioned around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair, according to officials with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. According to reports, three people were critically injured and transported to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment. Two others listed in critical condition and one person categorized as stable were being treated at Grant Medical Center. The seventh person, identified as a teenage boy, suffered minor injuries.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Gov. John Kasich said he has “ordered that all fair rides be shut down until additional safety inspections can be completed.” Additionally, Kasich said he has ordered “a full investigation into this incident.”
“I am terribly saddened by this accident, by the loss of life and that people were injured enjoying Ohio’s fair,” said Kasich. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those grieving and injured.”
Dr. David C. Evans from the OSU Wexner Medical Center said all three patients at his facility were being treated in the hospital’s intensive care unit. He said the victims range in age from “their late teens to early 20s into the 50s and 60s, I believe.”
Evans said he and fellow trauma physicians were provided with video of the incident that revealed that “multiple passemgers were ejected at high speed with high energy, many feet, at least 20 or 30, if not more, into the air and then crashed at a significant distance from the ride.”
Col. Paul Pride, superintendent of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said Wednesday evening that the identities of the deceased person and those injured were being withheld pending notification of their families.
The ride that malfunctioned has been identified as the Fire Ball by officials with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. According to websites devoted to fair and carnival rides, the Fire Ball is manufactured by KMG. The “aggressive thrill” ride swings riders 40 feet above the ground while spinning at 13 revolutions per minute. The ride holds 24 passengers.
Videos recorded by fair-goers and posted to social media showed the ride was swinging upward when the ride apparently malfunctioned, throwing several people into the air. Witnesses at the scene reported seeing some of the injured falling from the ride as the incident unfolded.
David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, said during a press conference on Wednesday that his agency’s amusement ride inspection personnel will “do a complete review” of all rides at the state fair.
“Ride inspection is one of the most important things that we do,” Daniels said. “The Department of Agriculture is responsible for that operation. We do not rush inspections. … As amusement rides come in, they are checked several times while they’re being put up and each and every day. We will begin an investigation on this to determine what the failure was, if any, and how this accident occurred.”
Daniels said 11 rides were not allowed to operate when the fair opened Wednesday because inspections of them were not completed in time. He said some of those rides were later allowed to operate. Four rides will not operate at all during the fair “because they do not meet the mechanical test.”
Shortly after the malfunction occurred, the following tweet was posted on the Ohio State Fair’s Twitter feed: “There has been a report of a ride incident. We are investigating and will report information as available.”
No further information was posted following that tweet.
The Ohio State Fair opened Wednesday at the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair complex located at 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus. The fair is scheduled to run through Aug. 6.