The amusement park industry assures the public that its parks and rides across America are safe and well inspected but a recent death at the Ohio State Fair has left people wondering whether those claims have actually been nailed down.
On Wednesday, in a scenario ripped from a child's nightmares, l, killing one person and injuring seven others.
And an examination of similar incidents around the country shows that injuries on rides occur with startling frequency.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that 30,900 injuries caused by amusement park attractions were seen by hospital emergency departments in 2016 alone. Those injured are out of millions of people who visit carnivals, fairs and festivals each year, the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, which represents much of the mobile amusement industry, estimates.
Since 2010, the CPSC reports that there have been 22 fatalities caused by thrill rides, including Wednesday’s death in Ohio.
Inspections are intended to help cut down on the number of accidents and injuries, but that's not always the case.
The Associated Press reported that Ohio Chief Inspector of Amusement Ride Safety Michael Vartorella said the Fire Ball was inspected thoroughly three or four times before the fair opened on Wednesday — the same day the state issued a permit for the ride.
Rides are checked while they are being setup in order to ensure they meet manufacturer specifications, Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels told the Associated Press. The Fire Ball and other rides were also checked and given passing marks on some three dozen items, including checks for cracks, the brakes, proper assembly and installation.
One of those injured Wednesday, Abdihakim Hussein, told that he was struck by debris from the ride.
"My whole life flashed in front of me because I didn't know. It kept going, too, once it broke off," he said.
Amusement of America, operator of the ride, also insisted that the Fire Ball had undergone a thorough inspection.
“Our family owned company is committed to working with state and local experts in trying to determine the cause of this tragic accident,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. "The ride was inspected by our staff as well as independent inspectors prior to opening at the Ohio State Fair.”
The Outdoor Amusement Business Association defended the Fire Ball’s operators, as well.
“This incident took place despite multiple independent inspections of the ride and only a full and complete investigation can identify the issues or issues that led to this tragedy,” the business association, which claims 60 percent of ride injuries are caused by guests behaving inappropriately, said in a separate statement on Thursday.
But inspections aren't always foolproof.