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7 ON YOUR SIDE: Ohio State Fair ride model had reported structural flaws

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Records from Dutch manufacturer KMG International show the amusement ride model failing at the Ohio State Fair had multiple safety alerts. An August 8th, 2007 memo rated “urgent” states “cracks were found in the area of the corners of the 12-sided tube… perpendicular to the swing direction of the swing arm.” The memo called for ride operators to install metal reinforcements “as soon as possible.”

Another KMG memo from November 9th, 2009 states “it was discovered that structural steel on some of the over the shoulder restraints showed [defect] indications in the weld area.” Both memos were provided by the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.

KMG International Project Manager Albert Kroon released a statement:

On Wednesday July 26th, an accident happened at the Ohio State Fair on a KMG Fireball amusement ride. The ride is also known under the KMG name Afterburner or FRB24. In the accident a passenger carrying gondola detached from the supporting sweep arm. In the accident one person was killed and several other persons were injured.
Our deepest sympathies go out to all who were involved or affected by this tragic accident.
We are currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident. Until further details are known, operators of Fireball/Afterburner (FRB24) and Move-it (MVT24/MVT32) type amusement rides are instructed to cease operation of the ride until further notice.
This instruction does not affect the Freak Out (FRB16, all serials), Sicko (SCK24, all serials), XXL (all serials), Revolution (FRB32, all serials) and newer generation Afterburner rides (FRB24, serials 40 and up).

It is not known whether structural flaws discovered by ride manufacturer KMG International were in any way responsible for the death and injuries in Columbus, Ohio. 7 On Your Side reached ride operator Amusements of America. The company said nobody was available to answer questions about what ride fixes had been completed.

Multiple ride industry officials tell 7 On Your Side there is no government agency regulating amusement ride manufacturing. Manufacturers voluntarily use standards by ASTM International, a testing standards organization.

“There is market-based quality control,” said Jeff Roth, Vice President of Kansas-based Chance Rides.

SENATOR KAINE CALLS FOR CLOSER OVERSIGHT OF AMUSEMENT RIDES

7 On Your Side talked to U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D) Virginia, about existing government oversight of amusement ride operations and manufacturing businesses.

“It was very, very tragic accident and I'm sure everybody - I'm sure all 50 states, their state fairs are now rethinking, ‘OK, what do we need to do to protect people?’” said Sen. Kaine.

7 On Your Side discovered a lack of uniformity among state inspections of amusement rides. For example, Maryland has a team of state inspectors while Virginia relies on local building code inspectors to enforce state safety laws.

“When I saw that news, it made me wonder if the Virginia rules are what they should be,” said Sen. Kaine.

When pointed out that amusement ride manufacturing companies have no government agency mandating urgent safety bulletins to be sent to state inspectors or ride operators, Sen. Kaine responded, “ That seems like an obvious omission or error.”

This story has been updated, Friday, July 28, 2017

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