Pa. investigates amusement rides in wake of Ohio State Fair tragedy

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Ohio State Fair
(Ohio State Fair photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Following the amusement ride accident July 26 at the Ohio State Fair that killed one person and injured several others, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding outlined steps Pennsylvania is taking to ensure the safety of amusement riders in the commonwealth.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s tragic accident at the Ohio State Fair,” said Redding.

He said the department “immediately ordered rides similar to the one in question in Ohio to suspend operations here until we can better understand what happened there and ensure riders here are safe.”

Amusements of America is the owner/operator of the “Fire Ball” attraction involved in yesterday’s accident in Columbus, Ohio. The company has not been registered in Pennsylvania since 2012.

Based on a preliminary assessment, the department has identified two rides registered, but not operating in Pennsylvania, in the commonwealth that are similar to the “Fire Ball” attraction. Both rides, owned and operated by separate companies, are registered under the name “Afterburner,” and are available as part of traveling shows, such as carnivals and fairs.

However, neither company is operating the ride in Pennsylvania at this time, and none of Pennsylvania’s amusement parks offer the “Afterburner.”

Agriculture officials with the Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards have contacted the owner/operators of both “Afterburner” rides and ordered that the operation of those rides be suspended as a precautionary measure during the investigation and review.

Inspections

The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Ride and Measurement Standards registers more than 9,300 amusement rides and attractions — more than any other state or foreign country — and certifies and trains nearly 1,600 professional private industry inspectors across the state.

Regulated rides include not only roller coasters, Ferris wheels and carousels, but also wave pools, water slides, inflatables, ropes courses, climbing walls, zip lines, trampoline parks, and other facilities.

The department has inspected and registered amusement rides under the Amusement Ride Safety Act since 1984. It regularly participates in education and outreach seminars that include classes and hands-on demonstrations for ride operators and inspectors.

For more information about amusement ride and attractions inspections in Pennsylvania, visit the department’s online inspection database at RideSafe.pa.gov.

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