- Rick McCrabb Staff Writer
Rides at the Butler County Fair are inspected daily, according to amusement operators and fair officials, who say safety remains their top priority after a fatal accident Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair.
An 18-year-old man was killed and seven others were injured, five critically, when a ride called the Fire Ball malfunctioned Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
On Thursday, one hour before the rides opened, inspections were being conducted, as they are every day, said Russell Clements, 41, manager of Cincinnati-based Triple Treat Shows, the operator of rides at the Butler County Fair.
“Safety is our No. 1 issue,” Clements said. “If people aren’t safe then our livelihood don’t exist.”
There is a daily checklist to be completed for each ride, he said, that includes a test run of the ride. A supervisor must sign off on the checklist after it is completed by the employee, he said.
Clements said the appearance of the rides and the employees should “instill some confidence” in fair-goers.
“They can see that things are very well maintained,” Clements said. “We meticulously clean and meticulously take care of (the equipment).”
All rides inspections are public record and filed with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The Journal-News requested copies of those inspections for rides at the Butler County Fair, but the state wasn’t able to provide them Thursday.
Casey Wells, Concessions and Vending Manager for the Butler County Agricultural Society, said he is not concerned about the safety of rides at the Butler County Fair.
“I have the utmost respect and trust in Triple Treat Shows,” he said.
According to Wells, the Ohio Department of Agriculture says Triple Treat Shows is “a top-notch setup, one of the best in the state.”
Some Butler County Fair participants said Thursday they were concerned for their safety after the ride malfunction at the Ohio State Fair.
Amanda Roberson, of Hamilton, walked around the rides at the county fair Thursday, questioning operators and determining herself which rides were the “least risky” for her two children, ages 8 and 11.
She said her children had seen the horrific video of 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell being killed and seven others injured, five critically, at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus.
“It’s terrifying seeing that it can happen anywhere,” Roberson said of the fatal accident that was posted on social media.
“They have certain standards they have to uphold, but mistakes can happen,” Roberson said. “That (Fire Ball) would be the ride my kids would want to ride. They are thrill-riders. Scary to think that happened so close to home.”
The accident at the state fair made Roberson reconsider letting her children purchase a ride bracelet at the Butler County Fair.
“Every time we go to a fair, that does go through our mind,” she said. “Thinking about the safety of our kids.”
Jack Goss brought 14 children from the Just Like Home Children’s Center in Liberty Twp. to the Butler County Fair on Thursday. He said several parents, after hearing about the incident in Columbus, expressed concern about the safety of the rides.
“We assured them we’d be going on the ones that weren’t that dangerous,” he said. “You go to the fair to have fun. You don’t go to the fair to risk your life or worry about being injured.”