CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois state inspectors have shut down 12 carnival rides similar to the one that broke down mid-ride at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, sending people flying, killing one man, and injuring seven other people.
An 18-year-old man died after he was thrown into the air and landed about 50 feet away from the swinging and spinning amusement park ride called the Fire Ball. The ride malfunctioned and broke apart on the opening day of the fair in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday.
Seven other people on the ride were injured. Five were taken to the hospital in critical condition, and two victims’ conditions were described only as “stable.”
“This was of great force, and of great mechanism, really consistent with a very high-speed motor vehicle crash with an ejection; something more along those lines,” said Dr. David C. Evans, trauma medical director at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
In response to the tragedy in Ohio, the Illinois Department of Labor has ordered 12 similar rides not to operate until further notice. All 12 are manufactured by KMG, the same Dutch company that makes the Fire Ball.
The affected rides include Freak Out at the DuPage County Fair, which opened Wednesday.
DuPage County Fair manager Jim McGuire said, even before the fair opened Wednesday, all rides were inspected at least five times. He said he’s “extremely confident” about the other rides a the fair, and visitors should not be concerned.
“All rides have to be inspected by the state, and they get certified and a sticker on them that they have passed inspection through the state. They are inspected each and every time they’re set up at any other event that goes on, usually by the municipality, the fire department in that area. In our case, here, we add one more layer to that. We get both the city and fire department, and then also an inspection team that’s independent,” he said.
The Illinois Department of Labor’s seven inspectors held a teleconference Thursday morning to discuss the tragedy in Ohio, and the next steps in Illinois. The Illinois State Fair is scheduled for Aug 10-20.
Cell phone video of the incident in Ohio shows the moment the ride malfunctioned. It appeared part of the ride snapped off and fell to the ground as the ride began to swing upward. Some riders plunged to the ground, while others were flung high in the air.
One witness described what she heard.
“I heard a girl scream ‘Help!’ and I look over and I see some fly off, and then I see some slap to the ground,” Jennifer Body said.
The fair reopened Thursday, but rides won’t be running until they have been inspected again.
Inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture said the Fire Ball had been examined by the state three or four times before the fair, and once more by a third party. Investigators were trying to determine what was missed.
“We do not rush inspections. Our inspections take place, and as amusement rides come in, they are checked several times while they’re being put up,” Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels said.
KMG officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.