After 5 rides closed at Ohio State Fair, push for inspection law continues

In September, the mother of the 18-year-old US Marine Corps recruit killed in 2017 when a ride he was on at the Ohio State Fair broke apart while he was on it continued her advocacy at the state house for a bill to impose stronger amusement park inspection requirements in Ohio.

The mother, Amber Duffield, testified in front of an Ohio senate committee in favor of the bill, called Tyler's Law (named after her late son Tyler Jarrell, one of the two riders who died as a result of the crash). Within the Ohio General Assembly, the proposed legislation has passed the House and awaits a vote by the Senate, according to ABC 6. Jarrell was killed in the accident while another female victim, Jennifer Lambert, passed away one year later as a result of traumatic brain injuries she had suffered.

If signed into law, Tyler's Law would strengthen amusement park ride inspection and safety standards, heighten inspector qualification requirements and delegate more liability and responsibility to ride owners, according to ABC.

No warning from manufacturer, poor quality inspection led to fatal 2017 accident
A subsequent investigation into the cause of the 2017 accident found that rusting and subsequent corrosion had caused the steel arm holding the seating platform in place to wear away. This resulted in the platform detaching as the ride swung through the station platform, ejecting two riders and sending others plunging to the ground while still seated, according to WQAD 8.

State inspectors from Ohio's Department of Agriculture were found to only have conducted a visual inspection and did not perform any "in-depth testing procedures" in the form of ultrasounds or X-rays, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. KMG announced in early August 2017 that the inspectors did not find that the ride had "excessive corrosion" that caused it to break.

An attorney representing one of the accident victims in a lawsuit against the ride's Dutch manufacturer, KMG Rides, found that the company had been aware of the corrosion issues before the incident, but only sent one warning letter to a Canadian operator and no others worldwide, according to WQAD 8. Among other details, the letter contained guidance on how to properly maintain the inside of the steel arm in question to prevent rusting and corrosion. The letter further contained an announcement that the company had set a new required thickness for the support beams.

chairlift rideDespite a corrosion-related warning issued by the manufacturer of a chairlift-style ride at the Ohio State Fair ahead of the 2018 event, the ride remained open that year.

Two years later, five rides removed ahead of 2019 Ohio State Fair following failed inspections
Duffield's September 2019 state house testimony came just months after her visit to the 2019 Ohio State Fair, before which inspectors prevented four rides from opening and permanently closed another Ferris wheel-style ride that immediately failed a visual test based on evidence of corrosion, according to WBNS 10.

In 2018, the manufacturer of the SkyGlider chairlift-style ride that transports fairgoers for views above the event issued a warning related to potential corrosion in both the chairs' seats and metal canopies that attach them to the moving cable. Because the president of the company that issued the warning passed away before the year's Ohio State Fair, no action was taken and the ride was still in operation at the event, according to The Columbus Dispatch. A no-bid contract worth more than $116,000 was issued following the news to replace the nearly 100 chairs before the 2019 fair.

During her testimony, Duffield thanked Ohio Governor Mike Dewine and the state's Department of Agriculture for their efforts to ensure extra safety precautions at the 2019 fair, pointing out that the purpose of the bill extends beyond just those rides at the annual state event. At her House testimony earlier in 2019, two professional engineers spoke out in support of the proposed law, citing a need for improved amusement park ride inspections, according to ABC 6.

"It is not just about the State Fair, please know this is to take your safety very seriously in all aspects…this is just not about the fair rides or the festival rides or anything like that. It is about all moving parts that your family partakes in," Duffield told the news station.