A swinging and spinning ride called the Fire Ball recently malfunctioned on opening day at the Ohio State Fair. The ride was operated by Amusements of America, a company based in Monroe, Middlesex County.
The ride was described by Amusements of America as an “aggressive thrill” ride. The Fire Ball swings riders 40 feet above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute. Dramatic video shows the ride swinging like a pendulum before hitting something on the upswing, knocking one of the cars off. The crash killed an 18-year-old man and injured seven other people.
The accident led to the banning of the ride from several states. The company has since ordered the shutdown of 43 similar rides around the world. According to the operator, the ride passed inspection.
Theme Park Injuries
Roller coasters, bumper cars, water slides, spinning rides and other amusement park attractions send thousands of Americans to the hospital every year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that most theme park injuries occur due to:
- Mechanical failure of the ride. Lap bars detaching, roller coaster cars derailing and structural component failures are examples of this.
- Improper operation of the ride. For example, the operator incorrectly attaches a seat belt or fails to lock in restraints.
- Passenger misuse or failure to follow instructions. Passengers standing up, unbuckling themselves and holding children above safety restraints, for example.
- Inherent nature of the ride. Some rides put riders through intense movements that can lead to things like cerebral and retinal hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, loss of consciousness, headache and dizziness.
Children represent about one half of those injured in amusement park accidents, with kids between ten and 14 sustaining the most injuries. In three-quarters of accidents involving falls or forceful ejection from rides, children are the victims. Whirling rides like the Fire Ball and roller coasters make up the lion’s share of fatal theme park accidents.
Theme parks have a duty of care to make sure that rides are safe and do not harm riders. If negligence occurs and a visitor suffers injury as a result, the theme park could face liability for the injuries.