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Death at Ohio State Fair as 'Thrill Ride' Malfunctions

Victims were hurled from Fire Ball
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2017 12:37 AM CDT
1 Killed, 7 Hurt in Ohio State Fair Disaster
Authorities stand near the Fire Ball amusement ride after the ride malfunctioned, injuring several, at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.   (Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

A man was killed and at least seven other people were injured in a horrific ride malfunction on the opening day of the Ohio State Fair. Officials say the 18-year-old man was killed after being thrown in the air from the Fire Ball ride Wednesday evening and landing around 50 feet away, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Steve Martin, the Columbus Fire Division's battalion chief, says five of the injured are in critical condition. He says one of the injured people is 13 years old and the rest are adults. The Fire Ball, described by its maker as an "aggressive thrill ride," spins around riders held in sections on six spoke arms. Martin says one of the rows of seats "snapped off," sending riders flying, NBC4 reports.

Michael Vartorella, chief ride inspector of the Amusement Ride Safety Division, says inspectors examined the ride earlier in the day and didn't spot any problems, reports CNN. Vartorella says the Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened. He says inspections weren't rushed, though heavy rains and flooding forced inspectors to work long hours. "I am terribly saddened by this accident, by the loss of life and that people were injured enjoying Ohio's fair," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said in a statement. He ordered the closure of the other 71 rides at the fair for inspections. They're expected to reopen Thursday, apart from several rides near the Fire Ball, the Dispatch reports. (More Ohio stories.)

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