COLUMBUS (WCMH/AP) – The bend and snap of metal caused the Fire Ball to break apart in the air, killing one and hurting seven others.
A four-passenger carriage on the swinging and spinning ride broke apart July 26, on the opening day of the fair, and flung one of the ride’s carriages into the air.
An 18 year-old high school student, Tyler Jarrell, died on the midway while his girlfriend, 19-year-old Keziah Lewis, was critically injured. Six others also were injured.
A State Highway Patrol investigation found the ride operators were not to blame. Dutch manufacturer, KMG, said the cause was excessive corrosion of a support beam. The accident resulted in the shutdown of similar rides worldwide.
Keziah Lewis’ lawyer Bart Keyes said she is still recovering in the hospital nearly two months later.
“She’s also one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. Every time that I’ve visited with her, she’s been in the most positive spirits that you could be given the situation,” said Keyes.
Seeing the ride at the fairgrounds serves as a reminder of that tragic day, but soon that will change. Keyes said the ride will start coming down Saturday morning, all while being inspected by independent experts.
“As we do that, we are going to be inspecting the ride to see things like the gondolas that did not break off, what kind of corrosion is inside those arms, what kind of water intrusion is there,” said Keyes.
He says they will also look at the other pieces of the ride to see how thin the steel has gotten. As you may remember, authorities said corrosion caused the metal beam holding the seat to wear down and break apart.
“So we are going to look at the other parts of the ride, the other seats and the arms holding them, to see if there are similar problems there,” said Keyes.
Keyes said there is no telling how long this next inspection will take, but all of the lawyers for the riders will be there watching every step of this process.
The inspection started Saturday at 8 a.m. and is not open to the public. Keyes said the ride will be taken to a storage unit until the lawsuits conclude.