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A Year After Deadly Fair Accident, Legislation To Strengthen Ride Safety Awaits Action

state_fair_midway_2017_but_no_fireball_-_credit_kasler.jpg
Karen Kasler
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Part of the Ohio State Fair Midway as seen on the first day of the Fair in 2017, hours before 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell was killed on the Fireball ride, which is not pictured.

A year ago this week, an 18-year-old Columbus man was killed on a thrill ride on the first day of the Ohio State Fair. There’s been legislation proposed to strengthen ride safety since then, but the law named for Tyler Jarrell hasn’t passed.

Tyler’s law was introduced in May, nine months after Jarrell was thrown from the Fireball thrill ride, which broke apart because of extensive corrosion. 

Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) said the law would require more skilled inspectors and more detailed records of rides, including before and after photos. Patterson says there are more events featuring rides, so they’re constantly being moved and reassembled. And they’re getting bigger and more thrilling. “There’s more stress points on the mechanical and engineering side of these rides, which needs to be more specialized training to be on alert for those.”

Patterson said it took time to do the right research to create the legislation, but he and co-sponsor Jim Hughes (R-Columbus) are hoping it will pass by the end of the year.

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