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updated: 7/27/2017 5:28 PM

2 DuPage carnival rides among those suspended after fatal Ohio accident

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  • A carnival ride called "Freak Out" is temporarily closed at the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton after a fatal accident on a similar ride at the Ohio State Fair this week.

      A carnival ride called "Freak Out" is temporarily closed at the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton after a fatal accident on a similar ride at the Ohio State Fair this week.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • This is a screenshot from a video taken of the accident that killed an 18-year-old at an Ohio carnival.

    This is a screenshot from a video taken of the accident that killed an 18-year-old at an Ohio carnival.

 
 

Two DuPage County carnival rides similar to the one that malfunctioned in Ohio killing one person and injuring seven others were shut down Thursday by the state and fair officials.

The Illinois Department of Labor announced the suspension "until further notice" of 12 rides similar to the "Fire Ball" that malfunctioned Wednesday evening at the Ohio State Fair. IDOL's Division of Amusement Rides and Attractions Safety said three "Fire Ball" rides, eight "Freak Out" rides and one "Extreme" ride in the state are affected by the suspension.

The ride is a four-legged tower featuring a pendulous, rotating arm hanging from the pinnacle with four to six gondolas attached at the bottom. It seats 16 to 24 people at a time, depending on the type of ride, according to manufacturer reports.

The rides ordered closed in DuPage County are at the DuPage County Fair in Wheaton and at Wood Dale's Prairie Fest. Both are the "Freak Out" version operated by Arlington Heights-based Fantasy Amusement Co. Attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

Jim McGuire, manager of the DuPage County Fair Association, said it's better to be safe than sorry.

"They've all gone through inspections through the state, through the local municipality, the fire department. Everybody's been out here looking at them, safety teams, insurance providers," McGuire said. "So there's a lot of levels of inspections on all the rides. Safety first -- that's what it's all about. I feel very confident in our rides. At the same time, precaution is due with something like this."

It's unclear if it will reopen during the rest of the fair, which runs through Sunday.

Some fairgoers were disappointed by the ride's closure.

"The kids were upset, they were like 'oh it's closed,'" said Tami Appleberg, a West Dundee mom who brought her three kids and instead rode the Ferris wheel.

The "Freak Out" ride at Prairie Fest is closed for the entirety of the four-day festival, according to Wood Dale Deputy Police Chief Mike Rivas. Inspectors were looking at all rides at Prairie Fest Thursday as well, as a precautionary measure.

Illinois State Fair officials said the company hired to handle the carnival rides at this year's event won't bring a similar ride to the fair "out of an abundance of caution."

"With many festivals and county fairs occurring across the state, including the Illinois State Fair, we are committed to ensuring the safety of all carnival rides," said Joe Beyer, IDOL's acting director.

Amusement rides are inspected multiple times during their operation, state officials said. Rides can be subject to multiple "surprise" inspections during any event as well.

Indiana officials also announced the ride won't be part of the carnival at this year's state fair slated for early August.

The ride's Dutch manufacturer told operators of the same attraction at fairs and festivals around the world to stop using it until more is learned about what caused the malfunction.

Ohio inspectors repeatedly looked over the thrill ride while it was assembled at the Ohio State Fair Wednesday, and signed off on it hours before it flew apart in a deadly accident that flung passengers into the ground, according to authorities and records released Thursday.

Investigators worked to find out what caused the opening-day wreck that killed the 18-year-old high school student who had just enlisted in the Marines.

Video captured by a bystander Wednesday evening at the Ohio State Fair shows the "Fire Ball" ride swinging above its bottom platform when a crashing sound is heard. The footage then shows one section holding four riders come apart as it begins to swing upward and at least two people tumbling in the air.

Screams are heard as passengers are thrown to the ground.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich ordered all the rides closed until they can be inspected and deemed safe. He planned to tour the fair Thursday.

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

Officials said the 18-year-old man who died was one of several people thrown to the ground when the ride malfunctioned. Ohio State Medical Center said three of the injured were being treated there. Two of them were in critical condition, the hospital said Thursday.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Katlyn Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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