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Deadly Fire Ball ride made stops in Florida this year, records show

Florida inspectors reported problems with lap bars, interlocks on Fire Ball ride

Passers by look at the Fire Ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The amusement rides remained closed one day after Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed on the ride.
Passers by look at the Fire Ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The amusement rides remained closed one day after Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed on the ride. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The same exact carnival ride responsible for a man’s death Wednesday in Ohio has been at seven different fairs this year, including some in Florida, records show.

The Fire Ball, which consists of at least six rows of seats that spin around 40 feet above the ground as the entire structure moves like a pendulum, broke apart while it was in motion at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday night, killing one person and injuring seven others. It was carnival’s opening night.

Rhonda Burgess said one of her sons was standing in line at a nearby ride when the chaos unfolded.

"The ride had four riders per cart. This piece snapped off and the riders came out of the cart," Burgess said. "At least two (people) flew through the air at least 20 feet before landing on their backs on the concrete."

Most recently in March a Florida Department of Agriculture inspector reported many problems with the ride, including lap bars not operating properly, an uneven deck and interlocks not working. Those deficiencies were reported while the ride was at St. David’s Church in Davie, Florida.

The Department of Agriculture examines rides around the state, including at Fun Spot twice a year.

Fun Spot’s chief marketing officer David Hummer told News 6 that what happened in Ohio is anyone's worst nightmare who works in the industry.

Hummer said they are waiting to hear what went wrong with the Fire Ball. Fun Spot employers tell their staff to be on the lookout no matter what.

“We are staying on top of our inspections, make sure if something don't sound right if something doesn't smell right, report it to your engineers your managers on duty,” Hummer said he tells employees.

To prevent tragedies like the one at the Ohio State Fair Hummer said once a year Fun Spot breaks down every ride, sending pieces off for X-rays to check steel beams.

At the Ohio State Fair inspectors had overseen the assembly and then inspected around 70 rides ahead of opening day.

Four rides failed an inspection on Monday, but there were no red flags when inspectors examined the Fire Ball. The Associated Press reported that the ride was given the green light hours before the fatal accident.

The "aggressive thrill" has become one of the most popular thrill rides since its debut in 2002, Amusements of America, the ride's operator, says on its website.

The ride's Dutch manufacturer told operators of the same attraction at fairs and festivals around the world to stop using it until more is learned about what caused the malfunction.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich quickly ordered a full investigation into the incident and ordered all fair rides to shut down.

"The fair is about the best things in life and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," Kasich said in a news conference.

Most activities at the fair will resume Thursday while the rides undergo new inspections, fair officials said.

CNN contributed to this report.


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