7 ON YOUR SIDE investigates thrill ride safety
The video… just horrifying. Opening night at the Ohio State Fair - ending in tragedy. An 18-year-old dead - 7 others injured after a car from the Fireball ride broke off - landing onto the concrete below. At least three of them - in critical condition. One girl near the ride - overcome with emotion after witnessing it all.
“It started shaking and stuff, it's shaking real bad, the girl she's just like 'my seat keeps shaking, my seat keeps shaking'. And then, it just flew off. The whole thing flew off. When her leg hit, her leg her leg just like...and then the dude hit the ground and none of them was...and then other people came and tried to give them CPR and stuff and nothing was happening.”
Organizers do say the ride passed inspection just hours before the accident.
Accidents like this in Ohio have happened frequently across the country including last year at the Frederick County fair in Virginia. A 47-year-old woman was riding the Sling Shot. Her seat fell off the main portion of the ride and she was tossed 40 feet to the ground and suffered multiple injuries. In Virginia, it's left up to local authorities like County Building Inspectors to inspect rides. There are no Federal guidelines, each state makes up their own rules.
What happened in Ohio does make some fair goers in the area think twice before they jump on their favorite ride.
Margaret Gaines attending the Loudoun County Fair with her family says, “Very concerned… I have no intention letting them get on those rides."
According to the Center for Injury Research and Policy more than 4,000 kids are injured on rides each year. The most common injury is to the head or neck.
Maryland has a dedicated team that inspects rides and has some of the strongest rules in the nation. So far this year, Maryland inspectors have taking a closer look at more than 3,000 rides. The state has an almost perfect non-accident record for years. According to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation it has maintained a 0.001% accident rate for the past several years. That includes seasonal fairs/carnivals, theme parks, and inflatables. Maryland regulates 399 permanent amusement attractions, and 4,109 seasonal. In 2016, the Maryland Amusement Ride Unit conducted 6,462 inspections. Year-to-date 2017, the Unit has conducted 3,555 inspections.
Here's some tips to help you ride safely on any thrill ride:
-Make sure you follow height, age, weight and health restrictions on all rides.
-Pay attention to loading instructions by ride operators.
-Always use safety bars and seat belts.
-Trust your instincts.
If you're worried about the safety of the ride, don't get on.
A father with his small children at the Loudoun County Fair tells ABC 7 News, "I think in general you have concerns because they disassemble and re-assemble them at each location. I don't know about the maintenance. Maybe it gives them more of an opportunity to interrogate if they are safe?"
According to safety experts, the most common type of injuries on rides are usually only bumps and bruises.