Michigan officials assure safety of fair rides after tragedy in Ohio

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – What was supposed to be a fun time at the state fair in Ohio, turned deadly when a ride malfunctioned killing one person and injuring seven others.

The tragic situation prompted Ohio officials to close down all rides until they are deemed safe.

The horrific accident led officials including Sandra Dargatz, the Executive Director of the Ingham County fairgrounds to speak up and assure the safety of their rides.

“We have Skerbeck Entertainment Group and they have on staff 24/7 two licensed inspectors and they’re always adjusting and testing and doing everything they need to do to make the rides safe,” said Dargatz.

The annual Ingham County fair is scheduled to start next week and Dargatz says Skerbeck’s licensed inspectors check everything before riders take flight.

“They’re looking to make sure that all the safety catches are in place and making sure that all the seat belts and the retaining bars and all of those things are functioning the way that they’re supposed to,” Dargatz stated.

According to a statement from Sonja Skerbeck, “rides are inspected daily during the one hour period prior to opening.”

She goes on to say “ride operators are also trained to listen and observe the operation of their ride throughout the course of the day.”

However, in Michigan there are roughly 950 rides that need to be thoroughly inspected minimally once a year by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, also called LARA to make sure it’s up to code.

“My guys are out there climbing on top of stuff, going underneath it, taking panels off, looking at as much as they possibly can to make sure that all those parameters are met,” said Mike Beamish; Director of the LARA Licensing Division.

Beamish says even though all rides are monitored regularly, he says riders should always use their discretion.

“Things break down from time to time, it’s machinery,” Beamish stated.

Beamish says Michigan doesn’t have a “fireball” ride like the one that malfunctioned in Ohio, but has one similar.

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