Ohio State Fair Accident Update: Corrosion to Blame?

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Late last month, we reported on the tragic amusement park ride accident that left one young man dead and seven others injured. The accident occurred at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus on July 26, 2017. The victims were passengers on a ride called The Fire Ball, described as an “aggressive thrill ride.” The ride, consisting of six rows that spin about 40 feet above the ground, collapsed and broke apart while operating, throwing the victims through the air. Prior to the accident, the ride had passed multiple inspections and no explanation could be immediately provided as to why the ride malfunctioned. However, Albert Kroon, product manager for the Dutch manufacturer of the ride, has come forward with a potential cause for the accident. It’s not clear whether his theory can be confirmed this early in the investigation, but it provides an interesting topic to discuss regarding amusement park accidents.

Amusement park rides are supposed to be a source of lighthearted fun, but it’s clear that this is not always the case. As evidenced by the Ohio State Fair tragedy, amusement park accidents can be truly devastating and can impact the rest of your life physically, emotionally and financially. With an estimated 30,000 injuries from amusement park rides per year, the need for experienced personal injury lawyers is always growing. The attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have decades of experience handling amusement park accident injury cases and are passionate about protecting your rights. We will go the extra mile to successfully resolve your case and ensure that negligent third parties are held responsible for their actions. Call today for a free consultation on your injury case at (215) 246-9000.

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The Ride Maker’s Explanation

The Fire Ball ride was manufactured by a Dutch company called KMG. On August 6, about 10 days after the accident, KMG’s product manager Albert Koon gave a statement regarding what he believed caused the deadly incident. An investigation of the 18-year-old ride apparently revealed excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam. This corrosion dangerously reduced the beam’s wall thickness over several years. It is not clear whether this corrosion was, or could have been, discovered during the other numerous inspections performed prior to the July 26th accident, but Ohio Department of Agriculture records showed passing marks on inspections for the Fire Ball on about three dozen items, including possible cracks, brakes, proper assembly and installation.

Facts about Corrosion

Corrosion is the deterioration of metal as a result of chemical reactions between the metal and the surrounding environment. There are many factors that play into corrosion, such as the type of metal and the particular environmental conditions. The specific type of gasses that come into contact with the metal typically determine the form and rate of deterioration.

General Attack vs. Localized Corrosion

General attack corrosion occurs when the entire surface of a metal structure is effected by corrosion. This is usually caused by chemical or electrochemical reactions. This type of corrosion is known to cause metal to break down and it a very common and predictable issue.

Localized corrosion occurs when only a portion of a metal structure is affected. There are three distinct types, including: pitting (small holes in the surface of the metal); crevice corrosion (occurring in stagnant locations like under a gasket); and filiform corrosion (occurring when water gets under a coating such as paint).

Koon’s statement did not refer to whether the corrosion of the interior support beam was considered a general attack or localized corrosion.

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Can Corrosion Be Prevented?

All metals are susceptible to corrosion, but The World Corrosion Organization estimates that about 25% of the global cost of corrosion could be eliminated by applying simple, well-understood prevention techniques. In fact, virtually all forms of metal corrosion can be managed, slowed, or even stopped by using proper techniques.

Can You Trust the Ride Manufacturer’s Word?

It’s important to consider the implications this explanation might have for the ride maker, KMG. If corrosion were to blame for the accident, it’s not clear whether this explanation would absolve KMG from liability in some way. First, it would have to be determined whether KMG, The Fire Ball’s manufacturer, failed to use proper corrosion preventative techniques. It would also need to be determined whether ride operators and/or inspectors could have been able to detect the corrosion before the ride collapsed. Of course, these questions would only be asked if corrosion actually was to blame for the accident—a theory not yet confirmed. In his statement on Sunday, Kroon said KMG has collaborated with “industry safety experts to develop an inspection protocol” to prevent future accidents from occurring.

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Contact a Philadelphia Amusement Park Injury Attorney Today

Since 2010, there have been 22 fatalities associated with amusement park attractions. If you or a loved one have been injured in an amusement park accident, don’t hesitate to get help from an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and the attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm will fight to make sure you get it. Our skilled advocates have extensive experience litigating amusement park injury cases and we will ensure that negligent third parties are held accountable. Call today for a free consultation with one of our Philadelphia amusement park injury lawyers on your amusement park injury case at (215) 246-9000.

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