Tragedy at The Ohio State Fair: One Dead and Several Injured After Ride Malfunction

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Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle

Tragedy struck the Ohio State Fair last night when the popular Fireball ride malfunctioned. The accident killed one rider and sent several others to the hospital in critical condition. Fire department officials have confirmed that the deceased is 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell, of Columbus. Per Fox8 News the victims are identified as:

  • Tamika Dunlap, 36, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio
  • Russell Franks, 42, of Columbus, Ohio
  • Keziah Lewis, 19, of Columbus, Ohio
  • Jacob Andrews, 22, of Pataskala, Ohio
  • Jennifer Lambert, 18, of Columbus, Ohio
  • Abdihakim Hussein, 19, of Columbus, Ohio
  • A 14-year-old male whose name is being withheld at the request of the family

The Fireball has consistently been one of the most popular rides at the fair since it was added in 2002. Riders spin in circles while the structure swings in a pendulum motion. Video of the accident shows a full row of seats detaching from the main structure sending riders and debris flying through the air.

WARNING:  GRAPHIC VIDEO!

Ohio State Fair organizers insist that thorough and proper inspections were conducted on all rides before opening. In fact, the Fireball passed inspection.

Gov. John Kasich ordered all rides to be shut down until further inspections can be performed.  The fair will open for business without the rides.  Kasich expressed his feelings about the accident in a press conference last night. He stated, “The fair is about the best things in life and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy. It’s a very tough day. It’s a very tough night for the people of our state because of the loss of our citizens.”

When accidents of this nature occur at state fairs or amusement parks, victims can recover damages for injuries sustained through our civil court system.

Negligence claims may be brought when a victim believes that his injury was caused by carelessness on the part of fair operators, or their employees. Negligence comes in many forms including arguments that the ride was negligently set up, maintained, or operated.  To prove negligence the victim must first show that the operators had a duty to be careful or take care when, in this case, assembling, inspecting, or operating the rides. Next the victim must show that fair operators were not careful. Lastly victims must show that any injuries sustained were the result of carelessness.

In the case at hand, victims may also want to bring a product liability claim against the Fireball’s manufacturer. Product liability claims can be brought when structural or design defects in the ride cause an injury. Requirements for proving a defective product claim vary from state to state but generally require the victim to show that an injury occurred, the product was defective, the defect caused the injury, and that the victim was using the product as intended.

If you have been injured at a state fair or amusement park, and want to know what legal remedies are available to you, a skilled personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you develop a strong argument in court.

Regardless of which, if any, legal remedies are sought after this terrible accident, the Gotham City team expresses our deepest sympathies and condolences for the victims and their families.

Photo credit: Ohio Expo Center & State Fair

Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to contact investigators at 614-799-6633.

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