Fire Ball ride manufacturer says ‘excessive corrosion’ led to fatal malfunction at Ohio State Fair

Passers by look at the fire ball ride as Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers stand guard at the Ohio State Fair Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) — The manufacturer of a ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair says years of corrosion led to the fatal accident.

KMG International, a company based in the Netherlands, shared a statement on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon.

“It was determined that excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam dangerously reduced the beam’s wall thickness over the years. This finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation,” the company says in a letter dated Aug. 4.

They also say the ride was 18 years old.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed and seven people injured when the swinging and spinning Fire Ball ride broke apart July 26 on the state fair’s midway. Click here for full NBC4 coverage.

The attorney for Jarrell’s family, Mark Kitrick, said he is now questioning everything about this tragedy.

“This show you how inspections are critical, and it makes you wonder what kinds of inspections really happened. What was happening to the product that Amusements of America had controlled for almost 20 years?” Kitrick asked.

Kitrick said he was not happy with the findings of the investigation or the fact that he and other families were not notified.

“I was outraged,” Kitrick said. “It’s an insult to the families and the victims here that a foreign company can come in and do an inspection and check everything out, and we’ve been completely excluded from the whole pricess.”

Kitrick also said that he has sent a number of letters requesting that his team of experts be allowed to look at the ride. So far, the requests have been unanswered. He worries it may compromise the investigation for Jarrell’s family.

“It makes me wonder what’s happened to the evidence,” Kitrick said. “Has it been compromised or tainted?”

Jarrell’s burial was Tuesday. His girlfriend, 18-year-old Keziah Lewis, remains hospitalized in serious condition.
Relatives of 18-year-old Jennifer Lambert say she’s opened her eyes briefly but hasn’t woken up.

Forty-two-year-old Russell Franks is in critical condition. His niece, 36-year-old Tamica Dunlap, is in serious condition.

A co-owner of the company that provides rides at the fair in Columbus has said he’s certain the ride fell apart because of a mechanical problem. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.

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