Attractions industry news

10 Aug 2017

UK rides reopen following death of man on similar US attraction in Ohio

A number of rides at theme parks in the UK have reopened after being shut down by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an accident on a similar attraction in the US which left one dead and seven injured.

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Jarrell died at the Ohio State Fair on 26 July after being thrown into the air by the Fire Ball spinning pendulum ride, which broke apart while in operation.

The HSE confirmed in a statement that five similar KMG Afterburner rides in the UK were subject to a prohibition enforcement notice, meaning that they were taken out of operation.

“There are six machines of this version operating in UK which were all thoroughly inspected within the last 12 months in line with agreed procedures,” said the HSE statement.

The rides closed as a result of the notice include those at Pleasurewood Hills in East Anglia, Ryan Crow Amusements in the North East, Coney Beach Fair in South Wales, Manning's Amusements based in Hertfordshire, and Brean Theme Park in Somerset. Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire also closed its ride immediately following the Ohio accident. Those can now reopen.

"As a precaution we proactively took the decision to temporarily stop operating the ride until it had undergone a comprehensive inspection and re-testing procedure," said Lightwater Valley in a statement to Attractions Management.

"Although there are fundamental differences between our permanent ride and the travelling version, which was involved in the tragic accident in the US, our ride engineers have fully implemented all the manufacturer’s new recommendations and carried out all updated test procedures for the ride.

"The ride has now been fully checked and approved for operation by external inspectors and the HSE has been notified and have given their approval for the ride to re-open."

In a separate statement, Pleasurewood Hills general manager, Adam Noble, said: “The manufacturers inspected the ride in America and understood what had gone wrong with it. They shared with us the instructions as to what we needed to change to make sure the ride was safe.

“We complied with that and used our own engineers and ADIPS inspectors. They said it was absolutely fine and cleared it to reopen.”

The remaining operators have all confirmed the reopening of the remaining rides following HSE assessment.

The ride model in question swings like a pendulum from side to side while spinning its passengers. Ohio’s Governor John Kasich has called for a full investigation into the tragedy. Following its own investigation, the ride’s designers KMG said that the accident on the 18-year-old ride was the result of "excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam," which "dangerously reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years."

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