Ride manufacturer KMG said “excessive corrosion” of one of the Fire Ball’s support beams dangerously reduced its thickness, causing it to break apart.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — This state’s ride inspections aren’t designed to catch the type of damage its manufacturer said led to its catastrophic failure at the Ohio State Fair, killing an 18-year-old man and injuring seven others.
Ohio’s ride inspectors didn’t perform any in-depth testing, such as ultrasounds or X-rays, on the Fire Ball before it ripped apart July 26, sending passengers flying and killing 18-year-old U.S. Marine recruit Tyler Jarrell.
Inspectors from Ohio’s Department of Agriculture gave a visual examination only, which the ride passed with flying colors. What the inspectors didn’t catch: The ride had excessive corrosion that caused it to break apart, the manufacturer KMG, based in Neede, Netherlands, said last week.
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In fact, Ohio inspectors don’t give any ride the kinds of tests that would catch hidden corrosion, according to ride specialists.
Records from the Fire Ball inspection, completed hours before Jarrell was killed, indicated no signs of corrosion — if it indeed were present as KMG said. It’s unclear whether the corrosion KMG is blaming would be visible with the naked eye.
KMG could not be reached for comment Monday. On its website, the company lists 20 rides that it now manufactures; the Fire Ball is now sold as the Afterburner.
The 39-point state inspection — standard for rides on midways around the state — included opportunities to note structural concerns. But none were listed that day.
Instead, the state inspectors noted:
Visual appearance indicates proper assembly.
Visibly free of cracks or…