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Ohio official wants changes to safety law for amusement rides

Ohio's director of agriculture is proposing new rules for amusement rides operators and manufacturers, nearly two years after a deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair.

In July 2017, the Fire Ball ride broke apart on the first day of the annual fair. An 18-year-old man was killed after his seat unhooked from the ride, and he was sent plummeting to the ground. A 19-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being thrown from the ride died a year after the accident of an illness she contracted in the facility where she lived.

Several other people were injured.

Now, the agriculture director wants to enact a number of changes, including:

  • Declaring some rides need more frequent inspections
  • Ensuring ride operators make sure that all safety information has been given to state inspectors
  • Giving ride operators a two-week span to fix safety issues

She announced the list of proposed rules changes earlier this month. Under Ohio law, the director can change some rules if the Advisory Council on Amusement Ride Safety recommends them. Other rules are up to the state Legislature to set.

An investigation showed that the Fire Ball ride broke apart because of corrosion.

The agriculture director has requested a 26 percent increase for the budget of her department's Ride Safety Division, which would bring the total to budget to $1.8 million.

"Going forward, I think the changes we are going to make by rule and legislation, are going to help better ensure the safety of rides for all people, whether they're at our fairs, whether they're at our water parks, or whether they're in our bounce houses," the director said.

State fairs, water parks and bounce houses are a staple of Ohio summers, and we should be able to enjoy them without an injury – or worse -- impacting our lives.

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