The Ohio State Fair reopened Thursday following a horrific ride malfunction on Wednesday evening, July 26, that killed an 18-year-old man and injured seven others.
Video footage posted online shows part of The Fire Ball ride tearing off, crashing into a barricade, and ejecting several riders into the air. The malfunction happened at 7:20 p.m. according to Battalion Chief Steve Martin, a spokesman for the Columbus Fire Division, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Gov. John Kasich ordered all 71 rides at the fair be shut down as the investigation into the cause of the breakdown continues. The gates reopened at 9 a.m. today for other activities as scheduled.
“Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night’s tragic accident,” a message from the fair’s official Twitter account says. “We have shut down all rides until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe.”
One man was ejected from the ride and landed on the ground 50 feet away, dying on impact. Three other people, two of whom were also ejected, were in critical condition. Four people are in stable condition, authorities said on Wednesday.
Kasich said that it was hard to imagine a family going to the state fair “and then those calls come that there was a terrible tragedy, and somebody you love was involved.” He added that the malfunction is the worst tragedy in the fair’s history.
A man who spoke to the Dispatch said that he heard a loud metal cracking noise and then saw two men being thrown from the ride, one from high up.
The Fire Ball is described as an “aggressive thrill” by ride enthusiast websites. The riders are swung on a pendulum from side to side reaching 40 feet up in the air with up to 13 revolutions per minute.
The Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened, according to Michael Vartorella, chief inspector of amusement ride safety for the Agriculture Department. He added that the inspections were not rushed, but that inspectors worked through the night because of recent storms and flooding in the area.
“We take this job very serious, and when we have an accident like this … it hits us really hard,” he said.
Wednesday was the fair’s opening day. It is one of the largest in the nation, attracting hundreds of thousands of people.