VERIFY | How safe are the rides here in Ohio?

VERIFY: how safe are rides here in Ohio

COLUMBUS - There are still a lot of questions being asked two days after the deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair. Not just by investigators, but by you, our viewers. 

Most of you were looking for more detailed information on the inspection process at the Fair and how it compares to big parks like Cedar Point. We Verified the answers with consultants and inspectors who have been in the business of rides for decades.

“If you are looking for guarantees in life, they don't exist," said Governor Kasich, encouraging visitors to the Ohio State Fair, despite acknowledging that rides come with some risk.

But you've been asking: how big of a risk?

To Verify, we spoke with Dennis Speigel, President of International Theme Park Services, and Ricky Morgan, a ride inspector for more than 30 years and former president of the American Society for Non-Destructive Testing, who helped us answer the most popular question...

Does the state check every ride before it opens?

They do. In fact, Ohio is one of twenty states that have comprehensive government inspection programs for all amusement rides.

Some wanted to know about inspections at fixed parks like Cedar Point. We found that similar to the State Fair, it gets inspected prior to opening and again mid-season, but employees continue to check the rides on a daily basis.

Now, do the safety tests factor in weight differences between children and adults? Speigel says those are manufacturer-level decisions and are incorporated into the design, but adds the ride operator has the ability to turn someone away if they don't meet the height requirement or if safety restraints don't fit properly.

Now, of course, we were asked if we secured copies of the inspection checklists from the Fireball.  

We did. Records show it passed inspection the day the accident occurred, indicating proper assembly, no cracks or excessive wear, no missing bolts.

But the urgent 2007 safety bulletin we uncovered from the manufacturer says engineers found “structural fatigue cracking” of the “swing arm” on these models. We can't tell from the reports whether that specific part was tested. Morgan says it's because the rides are so specialized, the terminology varies.

But investigators say they will do everything to pinpoint whether that was the fatal flaw.

"Basically an autopsy on that machine to make sure that we get to the bottom of why it came apart or why there was a malfunction," says Colonel Paul Pride of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

And that's Verified.

Compared to other states, we do a pretty good job here with inspections. There are no Federal regulations. And 9 states have no inspection programs for amusement rides.

VERIFY: Sources

  • Dennis Speigel, President of International Theme Park Services
  • Ricky Morgan, a ride inspector for more than 30 years/former president of the American Society for Non-Destructive Testing

 

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