The Chief Ride Inspector with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Michael Vartorella, indicated in a Wednesday night press conference that a deadly ride, responsible for killing one and injuring seven had been inspected three to four times over the past few days.
The Fire Ball ride was also inspected by a “third party inspector,” according to Vartorella.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich reiterated this particular ride was inspected several times and promised to make documents publicly available detailing the inspections on the malfunctioning ride.
“Make no mistake about it… it is a very, very sad night for all of us,” Kasich said.
WKYC Channel 3’s Hilary Golston did an in-depth debrief with Vartorella in August of last year at the Cuyahoga County fairgrounds regarding safety and inspection, following a series of high profile ride injuries and one death around the country.
Vartorella explained the inspections were typically considered “three-fold” on every ride and inspections are completed even before a ride is set up.
In 2016, Vartorella told Golston inspectors take a look at the structure blocking and even look at each individual piece to see how it all fits together.
Wednesday night Vartorella revealed the Fire Ball is what’s called a “spectacular pieces,” which means that the ride is put together in pieces hauled in on various trucks.
Officials said 11 rides didn’t open at the State Fair grounds because of inspection issues, Wednesday --- the inaugural day for the 2017 State Fair.
At least four rides were not operating because they didn’t meet mechanical tests.
Re-inspections are completed on rides like these to make sure the device meets manufacturer specifications.
Vartorella, who has been an inspector for more than 17 years, said that 4,300 rides are inspected across Ohio across amusement areas as varied as water parks and go cart parks.
Inspectors look at rides in different states, including when the rides are static and when the rides are assembled. Once the rides are put up, investigators also operate the rides evaluating elements like structure, operation, electrical work and connections. The goal is to make sure the manufacturer specifications are adhered to and are assembled in a way the manufacturer has prescribed.
Vartorella said his grandchildren enjoy fair rides and emphasized inspectors “do not rush.”
You can watch the press conference featuring Gov. Kasich and Michael Vartorella below: