1 Dead, 7 Injured When Fire Ball Ride Flies Apart At Ohio State Fair

One person was killed and at least seven others injured when a ride malfunctioned Wednesday night at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

The accident occurred on the fairs opening day at 7:19 p.m. local time at the Ohio Expo Center grounds on the Fire Ball ride, according to Columbus news station WKBW.

Battalion Chief Steve Martin of the Columbus Fire Division told the Record-Courier that some victims had been thrown from the ride during the accident. An 18-year-old man landed 50 feet from the ride and died on impact.

As seen in a bystanders video, a part of the mechanical ride came loose as the fast-moving ride swung, sending a carriage of passengers flying into the air.

Three of the injured remained hospitalized late Wednesday in critical condition, according to The Associated Press. The victims ranged in age from 13 to 41. Their names had not been released as of late Wednesday night.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich called it the worst tragedy in the history of the fair, adding, its a very, very sad night for all of us. The governor ordered all rides at the fair shut down until each one could be inspected.

Warning: The video below is graphic.

David Evans, medical director of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where three victims were taken, told CBS News that bystander videos of the incident helped medical staff to better understand the injuries. The victims, Evans said, appeared to have been ejected at a high rate of speed from 30 feet in the air.

Having that video really showed us that this was a great force and a great mechanism, really consistent with a high-speed motor vehicle crash with an ejection, really something more along those lines, Evans explained to CNN.

At a news conference Wednesday night, Kasich announced that the fair will be open Thursdaybut all the rides would remain closed. The governor added that he would be at the fairgrounds Thursday to speak with people who were affected by the accident.

Organizers of the Ohio State Fair confirmed reports of a ride incidentand said they have launched an investigation. The governors office, along with the state highway patrol and the Ohio Department of Agriculture will also be investigating the fatal accident, the Dayton Daily News reported.

The Fire Ball is a mechanical ride that swings and spins passengers back and forth, according to Amusements of America,the carnival company in charge of the fairs rides. The Fire Ball can swing passengers 40 feet above the midway while spinning at 13 revolutions per minute.

Amusements of America is a New Jersey-basedtraveling carnival company with a route that stretches from Miami to New York and to Ohio,Tennessee and the Carolinas. The company has held the Guinness World Record for the largest traveling carnival in the U.S.

Before the fair opened Wednesday, amusement ride inspectors from the Ohio Department of Agriculture told the Record-Courierthat they worked long hours this week to complete safety inspections on the 72 rides after rain and flash flooding caused delays.

State inspectors are responsible for making sure that each ride is constructed properly and for checking the rides safety systems and restraint mechanisms before, during and after the ride is set up,according to the newspaper.

Dave Vartorella, the Ohio State Fairs chief ride inspector, said he and a four-person crew inspected and signed off on the Fire Ball on Wednesday, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Amusement ride owners are required to have insurance of no less than $500,000 in the event of an accident in which at least one person is injured or killed and at least $1 million coverage for incidents involving more than one person, according to the agricultural departments Amusement Ride Safety Division.

Kasich and several other local lawmakers, including Sens. Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D), issued statements on the tragic incident.

I am terribly saddened by this accident, by the loss of life and that people were injured enjoying Ohios fair, Kasich tweeted shortly after the incident.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those grieving and injured. I have ordered a full investigation into this incident and have ordered that all fair rides be shut down until additional safety inspections can be completed.

The fair is scheduled to run until Aug. 7.

This article has been updated throughout with information on the victims, responses and other details.

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