Was there anything that was missed during inspections of the Fireball ride at the Ohio State Fair?
We uncovered an alarming document from the company that manufactures the ride, also known as the Afterburner. It's an Urgent Service Bulletin that revealed structural flaws in the ride that needed to be fixed immediately.
In fact you can hear the moment of the catastrophic failure. Moments before...it was sounds of excitement. Experts we spoke with said it's too early to tell what happened. But what we can tell you what we uncovered about the ride.
In a damning bulletin from 2007 from KMG, the company that makes the Fireball that failed at the Ohio State Fair, it shows that engineers discovered what they call "structural fatigue cracking" of the "Swing Arm". And they advised that all of the rides needed to be inspected and repaired immediately by what's called an "NDT" or Non Destructive Testing expert. And they needed to do it using "visual and magnetic testing."
But in a news conference this morning, with inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there was no mention of this.
Instead they talked about the generic inspections they do when the ride arrives in town on trucks and unassembled.
"We are going to take a look at it as they put it to the ground. we are going to make sure that it is level and make sure we look at the structure as it goes up," said Michael Vartorella from the Department.
When we contacted the company about the report, they sent us the below email confirming that the gondola carrying the riders detached from the supporting swing arm. We questioned whether the Swing Arm and the Sweep Arm were the same, but didn't hear back.
Read the company's full response below:
And while Inspectors from the Department of Agriculture say they looked at a lot of things, they didn't mention looking at that.
"The electrical components, the connections going to the boxes. We look at any specifications the manufacturer tells us," said Vartorella.
And the manufacturer has ordered to quote "cease operation of the ride until further notice”.
Now I do want to put this into perspective. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions says only 1 in 16 million people are hospitalized overnight from ride related injuries. In fact more people get injured bowling or at BBQ's.
But they add riders have responsibilities too. If something doesn't look right with a ride, don't get on. See some trash or oil spots around? Report it to a supervisor.