Officials discuss amusement ride safety ahead of local fair

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Investigators in Ohio are still trying to find out what went wrong when part of an amusement ride broke off in the air, killing one and injuring seven others at the state fair Wednesday.

The ride was operated by the family owned company, Amusements of America. According to its website, the traveling amusement park is scheduled to come to the Isle of Wight County Fair in September. Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson said the rides come in a few days before the start of the fair.

“We’ll employ the same practice this year that we’ve used in the past, and that being when the rides arrive, there’s an on-site inspection of each piece of equipment,” Robertson said. In the past, rides that did not meet inspection did not open, Robertson said.

According to Vernon Hodge, a regulatory specialist with the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Commonwealth has a state regulation for amusement rides. Either a state-certified county building inspector or a private third-party state-certified inspector will examine the equipment. In order to be state-certified, an inspector must pass a national test and training. The rides are inspected during the assembly process and cannot operate unless inspected, Hodge said.

“Unfortunately, you know, that was a tragic accident and those things happen, but we take every precaution that we can to ensure that the rides are properly inspected, that they are safe for the public. That’s not just a one-time inspection; there are periodic reviews of that inspection while the fair is in place and operational, and so we do everything that we can to ensure the public’s safety in that regard,” Robertson said.

WAVY News contacted a spokesperson for Amusements of America. They declined to answer questions, but provided the following statement:

Our family owned company is committed to working with state and local experts in trying to determine the cause of this tragic incident. The ride was inspected by our staff as well as independent inspectors prior to opening at the Ohio State Fair. We are keeping those impacted by this tragic situation in our prayers and fully cooperating with those investigating this accident.”