After Ohio State Fair tragedy, Gov. DeWine signs ‘Tyler’s Law’

With the family members of Tyler Jarrell at his side, Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a measure aimed at strengthening Ohio’s amusement ride safety program.

The law change comes more than two years after a horrific accident at the 2017 Ohio State Fair killed 18-year-old Jarrell and seriously injured seven others. A gondola on the Fire Ball ride snapped off and flung riders into the air and slammed them down onto the pavement in front of spectators.

House Bill 189, named ‘Tyler’s Law,’ seeks to strengthen safety inspection standards, define qualifications for ride inspectors and clearly outline ride owner responsibilities.

“Ohioans have a right to know when they put a child on a ride or they get on a ride themselves everything that can be done has been done to make sure that ride is as safe as it can be,” DeWine said.

Ohio’s inspectors are responsible for checking ride safety at 51 go-kart tracks, 362 portable companies such as fairs and festivals, and 149 permanent companies, including two of the nation’s largest amusement parks: Cedar Point and Kings Island. They’re also assigned to inspect water parks and inflatable bouncy houses.

Related: One-year after State Fair tragedy, families ‘live with this every day’

Related: Two-years after Fire Ball accident, Ohio changes fair vendors

The law will require state officials adopt an amusement ride classification system to help identify which rides need more comprehensive inspections; set rules governing a minimum number of inspectors and inspections; give hiring preference for inspectors who hold national certifications; require more detailed maintenance and repair records from the ride owner; and mandate that ride operators share any safety warnings with the state’s chief inspector.

Inspection fees would be increased from $49 to $75 — enough for the state to hire two additional inspectors.

Jarrell’s mother, Amber Duffield, who lobbied for the law change, gave DeWine a dragon fly pin that signifies that loved ones who died are never far away. “After the governor shared with me the loss of his own child, I felt that was appropriate because it tells us not to lose hope, we’re going to see them again,” she said.

DeWine’s daughter Becky died in an automobile crash in 1993 at the age of 22.

About the Author