Teen killed on Ohio fair ride was Marine Corps recruit

By Eric DuVall  |  July 28, 2017 at 10:38 AM
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July 28 (UPI) -- The individual killed when a thrill ride at the Ohio State Fair snapped and sent passengers flying through the air was identified as an 18-year-old Marine recruit, officials said.

Tyler Jarrell was killed when the row of seats he was sitting in appeared to break free of a ride Wednesday. Video of the incident showed the seats smashed into a metal support beam for the ride, then, with the force of the ride, people were thrown into the air.

Jarrell's girlfriend, Keziah Lewis, was also among the injured, suffering a fractured pelvis and other broken bones. She is expected to recover.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich toured the fairgrounds on Thursday in the wake of the incident, promising a full investigation.

The ride, the Fire Ball, was inspected three or four times during and after its assembly, according to officials with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the midway operator, Amusements of America. At no point did state inspectors or the ride operator find anything that would have suggested a tragedy was possible, just hours after the fair opened.

Inspectors said they were not rushed into approving rides for operation without proper inspections, and noted about a dozen rides were not operational when the fair opened Wednesday because they had not received safety clearance. Fair operators were, however, facing a tougher timeline because of inclement weather and flooding in the area during setup.

"My children, my grandchildren ride this equipment, so our guys do not rush through this stuff," Amusements of America owner Michael Vartorella said.

Ohio state troopers have enlisted amusement park ride engineers from outside the state to conduct an "autopsy" of the ride, which remains broken in its place on the fairgrounds in Columbus.

As for Jarrell, those who knew him said he had a bright future and had committed himself to military service from a young age. He had participated in a Navy junior cadet program at his high school for three years.

"Tyler was an absolute delight. Like so many young people, he spent the last year figuring out what he wanted in life. And he had done so, and he had put the steps in place to make it happen. He was so proud to be serving his country," Navy Capt. Gerard "Tom" Lennon Jr., told the Columbus Dispatch. "My heart is broken."

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