An 18-year-old man has died and 7 people are injured (3 critically) at the Ohio State Fair due to a malfunction of the “Fireball” ride at around 7:20 p.m. on Opening Day, July 26.
“This is the worst tragedy in the history of the Fair,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a news conference a couple hours after the accident. “You go to the fair to celebrate the best things in life, and then tonight with this accident, it becomes a terrible tragedy.”
The names of the deceased and the injured have not been released, yet all but one were adults.
Staff at Wexner Medical Center, where some of the injured were taken, said the injuries were akin to those from a high-speed automobile crash. The injured would require surgery for broken bones, it was said, and they would be in the hospital for at least a week.
The popular midway ride, which was developed in 2002, is described as a spinning pendulum that raises up to 40 feet high. Eyewitnesses said they heard someone say their seat was shaking, and a row of seats snapped off and hit the pavement, with pieces and people ejected.
Officials from the Ohio Department of Agriculture said the rides arrived by truck a week ago and were inspected a couple times prior to the fair being opened. The ODA is responsible for inspecting 4,300 rides at more than 100 fairs annually. Several rides were not operating at the Fair, because they had either not been fully inspected, or didn’t meet operating standards.
Kasich ordered all of the rides to be shut down, not to be reopened until they had been inspected. The Governor said the Fair would resume Thursday, and he would be there.