New York

Ride Involved in Deadly Ohio Accident Was at Meadowlands Weeks Ago, Records Show

People were hurled through the air when the ride malfunctioned in Ohio Wednesday

What to Know

  • A young man was killed and seven other people were hurt when the Fire Ball malfunctioned on the opening day of the Ohio State Fair Wednesday
  • Witnesses said a "whole row" of the thrill ride broke off, hurling people into the air; they described a horrifying scene
  • Officials in NJ say the ride at the Monmouth County Fair is similar to the one that malfunctioned in Ohio but has a different operator

The same exact ride involved in the deadly accident at the opening day of the Ohio State Fair was in New Jersey for the annual carnival at the Meadowlands earlier this month, inspection records show. 

Records show that the KMG-manufactured Fireball ride, which swings riders back and forth like a pendulum up to 40 feet in the air, was inspected every day at the fair from June 22 to July 9. No problems were found. 

No issues were found in Ohio prior to Wednesday's accident that killed an 18-year-old Marine recruit and injured seven other people, at least one of them critically. Records showed passing marks on inspections of about three dozen items including cracks, brakes, proper assembly and installation. Authorities say the accident was caused by some sort of malfunction; an investigation is underway. 

The ride broke broke apart as people enjoyed the first day of the Ohio State Fair Wednesday evening. Dramatic video shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air before "a whole row" of the ride flies off, according to witnesses and video, throwing riders to the ground. 

The man who died has been identified as Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus. Authorities said he was among those hurled from the ride when it malfunctioned. 

KMG, the Dutch manufacturer of the Fireball involved in the accident, told the Associated Press there are 43 such rides around the world, including 11 in the United States. It said the Ohio accident was the first such serious malfunction on one of the rides, and that KMG techs aren't involved in maintenance. 

Messages have been left with the operator, Amusements of America. 

Meanwhile, reaction across the tri-state area -- and the nation -- has been swift. 

A similar ride called the Claw at New Jersey's Monmouth County Fair was shut down Wednesday night after the operator, a different one than the one managing the ride involved in the accident, learned of the malfunction. 

New Jersey state inspectors officially took it out of service Thursday. Other rides at the fair at the East Freehold Showgrounds, which began Wednesday and runs through Sunday, remain operational. 

It's not clear how many similar rides operate in New York, but the state's Department of Labor said Thursday it has asked all companies operating the same ride to voluntarily shut them down until more is known about the cause of the accident in Ohio. The department said it would also re-inspect all rides in New York managed by Amusements of America, the operator of the Fireball in Wednesday's accident, and that it would reevaluate any similar rides operated by any other company in the state. 

In a parallel move Thursday, the Illinois Department of Labor announced it would suspend the operation of all rides similar to KMG's Fireball until further notice. 

The Ohio State Fair said all of its rides would be shut down pending state inspections, but other fair activities would proceed as scheduled. 

"Our hearts are heavy for the families of those in last night's tragic accident," the statement released early Thursday said. 

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 (12 meters) above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

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