BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s a race against the clock at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.
The rides are up, and the hours are ticking down until opening day on Thursday.
And right now, inspectors are examining every attraction to make sure visitors stay safe, just weeks after a thrill ride split apart in Ohio, flinging people into the air and killing 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell.
Seven others were injured, one of those a woman who went into a coma.
Inspectors have actually seen most of the rides already at other fairs in Maryland, but they’re still checking and re-checking them ahead of the start of the fair.
The Hydra may have a different name, and different paint color than the “Fire Ball” ride that proved deadly at the Ohio State Fair July 26, but it is a newer version of the same design.
“It’s a nightmare scenario for people in our industry,” says Andy Deggeller, of Deggeller Attractions. “We all tend to want to keep the public as safe as possible… The first thing I said was, what exactly are we doing to prevent this from happening?”
Delleger owns the rides that are now set up at the state fair. He watched Wednesday as inspectors checked every bolt and every connection point of every attraction.
“We never really put a time frame on the inspectors because we really want them to have as much time as they need,” says Rob Gavel, of the Department of Labor.
Hours before the Ohio accident, inspectors signed off on the rides. Gavel says what they missed was hidden corrosion inside a section of the 18-year-old ride that they couldn’t see or reach.
The version at the Maryland State Fair is just months old.
“All of us are going to be taking extra steps to pay attention to anything that is similar to that design,” Gavel says.
This year in Maryland, there have been seven incidents of mechanical malfunction or minor injury on amusement rides. There have been three accidents involving serious injury.
“When accidents happen, we learn, and we learn quickly,” according to Gavel.
The Department of Labor says you can do things to stay safe, too, like respecting the height restrictions and any other posted rules.
This year, the Maryland State Fair runs from August 24 to September 4.