Teenager Killed, 7 Others Seriously Injured, in Tragic Ride Malfunction at Ohio State Fair

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A tragic accident killed one person and seriously injured at least seven more last night when a ride called the Fireball malfunctioned on the opening night of the Ohio State Fair.

The Fireball ride broke mid-swing.

Nobody knows exactly what went wrong yet. But according to NBC News, around 7:24 last night some people were riding The Fireball. The Fireball has a long pendulum that swings back and forth. At the end of the pendulum is a wheel with six spokes, and at the end of each spoke is a seat for four people. The wheel spins, and the pendulum swings in a huge arc. It’s classified as an “aggressive thrill” ride.

A Twitter user posted this video of The Fireball in action:


Somehow, last night, one of the rows of seats broke off while the ride was in motion. Several people were hurled from the ride at high speed from 20 to 30 feet in the air.

18-year-old Tyler Jarrell of Columbus, Ohio, died at the fairground. Seven other riders between the ages of 14 and 42 were also seriously injured when the ride broke. Three of the other passengers are still in critical condition.

“The ride was going as normal, and then all of a sudden you see people flying out, and then the guy hit the emergency stop button, which then made the seat fly off and people flew off as well,” said Britney Neal, who was next in line to ride the Fireball when it happened.

The ride had been inspected.

Michael Vartorella is the chief inspector for amusement ride safety in Ohio. He said the Fireball was inspected at least three or four times before the fair opened. The state inspection team and a third party all gave it the OK to run.

There are Fireball rides in operation at several other fairs and amusement parks around the world. After last night’s accident, state fairs in Kentucky, California, and North Carolina all shut down their Fireball rides. The Indiana and Texas state fairs say they will not have Fireball rides this year because of the accident.

The Ohio State Fair remains open, but all rides have been shut down for the time being. The Ohio State Fair runs through August 6 and is a huge attraction. Last year 921,000 people attended.

It’s still not clear how exactly this happened. Ohio Governor Kasich has ordered an investigation.

(Image: iStockPhoto / MariusRamon)