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Deadly Ohio State Fair Ride Accident Caused By "Excessive Corrosion"

The popular fair attraction broke apart mid-air last month, tossing riders into the air and killing a teenager.

Last updated on August 6, 2017, at 5:37 p.m. ET

Posted on July 26, 2017, at 9:10 p.m. ET

The ride at the Ohio State Fair that broke apart mid-air last month, killing one person and injuring seven others had "excessive corrosion," the attraction's manufacturer said Sunday.

Jim Woods/The Columbus Dispatch via AP

After sending a team to examine the broken pendulum-style ride, investigators determined that the gondola support beam corroded, which dangerously reduced the metal arm's thickness over the years, the Netherlands-based KMG International explained in a statement.

The company also said it worked with industry safety experts to develop an "inspection protocol in the form of a Safety Bulletin to allow properly inspected and maintained rides to safely reopen."

When firefighters arrived the night of July 26, one person was pronounced dead and five others were taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Ohio State Highway Patrol identified the 18-year-old who died as Tyler Jarrell of Columbus on Thursday. Jarrell had just graduated from high school and enlisted in the US Marines, the first senior from his school to do so this year, according to the Marine Corps Recruiting of South Columbus, Ohio.

Two other people were injured in the incident, and their condition was stable, Martin said.

David Evans at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told reporters the patients at the facility were expected to remain in the hospital for at least a week. Injuries were mostly orthopedic, similar to what might happen in a high-speed car crash, he said.

A graphic video showed people being thrown from the Fire Ball ride, which appeared to break apart while riders were in midair.

According to the ride's manufacturer, the Fire Ball swings riders 40 feet above the ground, spinning at 13 revolutions per minute.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich ordered an investigation into the incident and all fair rides were shut down until safety inspections could take place.

Gov. Kasich's statement on tonight's incident at the Ohio State Fair.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Kasich grew emotional as he discussed the tragedy.

"You know, the fair’s about the best things in life, and then tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," he said.

The governor added there would be transparency around the investigation, which will be handled jointly by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the state highway patrol.

"Of course we want to get to the bottom of this, not only because we’re concerned about the situation in the Buckeye State, but there may be things that can be learned that help people in other states," Kasich said.

Ohio State Fair issued a statement on the accident in the early hours of Thursday morning. The fair said its "hearts are heavy," but added that gates would open at 9 a.m., although all rides will be shut down while they are inspected.

Rides had been inspected on Tuesday before the fair opened, 10TV reported.

Ride inspections happening today at the @OhioStateFair. What parents need to know tonight on #10TV

Michael Vartorella, Ohio's chief inspector of amusement park rides, said the Fire Ball was reviewed by state inspectors during its setup as well as after, and it passed.

Vartorella and his team of four inspectors are responsible for reviewing the more than 4,000 rides at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks around the state."We take this job very serious, and when we have a tragedy like this it hits everybody, it hits us really hard," he told reporters. "My grandchildren ride this equipment, so our guys do not rush this stuff."At the time the fair opened, 11 rides were closed because they had not yet been fully inspected. Four remained closed through the day because they did not meet mechanical standards, he said.
NBC 4 / Via livestream.com

Vartorella and his team of four inspectors are responsible for reviewing the more than 4,000 rides at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks around the state.

"We take this job very serious, and when we have a tragedy like this it hits everybody, it hits us really hard," he told reporters. "My grandchildren ride this equipment, so our guys do not rush this stuff."

At the time the fair opened, 11 rides were closed because they had not yet been fully inspected. Four remained closed through the day because they did not meet mechanical standards, he said.

Wednesday was the fair's opening day, and tens of thousands of visitors had been expected through its closing on Aug. 6.

There has been a report of a ride incident. We are investigating and will report information as available.

Cora Lewis contributed reporting.

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