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Illinois Suspends Operation of All ‘Fire Ball' Rides After Fatal Ohio Fair Malfunction

"The whole row just broke off, and they went flying," a witness recounted

The Illinois Department of Labor has suspended the operation of all rides similar to the Fire Ball after the amusement park ride broke apart at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday, killing at least one person and injuring seven others

At least three Fire Ball rides, eight Freak Out rides and one Extreme ride in Illinois will not operate until further notice, officials said. 

“With many festivals and county fairs occurring across the state, including the upcoming Illinois State Fair, we are committed to ensuring the safety of all carnival rides,” IDOL Acting Director Joe Beyer said in a statement Thursday.

Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, Ohio, was identified by police as the person killed in this week's accident.

Three of the injured were hospitalized Wednesday night, authorities said at a news conference. Two of them were treated and released, but the other remained hospitalized in critical condition Thursday morning.

Dramatic video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air before part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground.

In a statement, the Ohio State Fair said: "Our hearts are heavy for the families of those in last night's tragic accident." The fair also said all rides will be shut down until they are inspected by the state, but other activities at the fair will go on as scheduled. 

"The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican Gov. John Kasich. 

A company providing rides at the fair this year described the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill" ride.

On its website, Amusements of America says that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company description of the ride says it swings riders 40 feet (12 meters) above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

The Illinois Department of Labor said the Amusement Ride and Attraction Safety Division inspects and permits all rides open to the public and determines whether they are safe to operate. 

"No ride is permitted to run if it does not pass inspection," the department said in a statement. 

Inspectors conduct about 4,000 ride inspections at parks, carnivals and fairs throughout Illinois each year, officials said. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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