The company that provided a ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, killing one person and injuring seven others, has several stops scheduled in North Carolina this fall.
But the Fire Ball ride will not be allowed to operate in North Carolina until the investigation into the Ohio incident is complete, according to the state Department of Labor.
“We have issued a moratorium until it can be conclusively certain what happened up there in Ohio,” said department spokesman Jason Tyson.
The Fire Ball, which swings and spins riders into the air, broke apart on opening day of the Ohio State Fair after passing inspections the same day, the Associated Press reported.
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Several people were reportedly thrown from the ride when it failed. Officials told the AP three people remained in critical condition Wednesday.
The company is scheduled to provide rides at the Lenoir County Fair in Kinston Sept. 19-23, the Rocky Mount Fair the following week and the Onslow County Fair in Jacksonville Oct. 2-7.
The N.C. State Fair, set to celebrate its 150th anniversary Oct. 12-22, is not on the company’s schedule and hasn’t been since 2002, fair spokeswoman Sarah Ray said.
But the State Fair has featured a Fire Ball ride for at least 15 years, fair officials said. The ride is manufactured by KMG, which also manufactured the ride at the Ohio State Fair.
Fire Ball remained the first clip in a centerpiece video on the Amusements of America website Thursday. The company describes the “swinging and spinning” Fire Ball as “one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway” since its debut in 2002.
The company was at the center of a bribery scandal that led to multiple convictions in 2004, including one that led to the resignation of former N.C. agriculture commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.
Morris Vivona Jr., general manager of Amusements of America at the time, pleaded guilty to one charge of obstruction of justice for lying to investigators about payments made to Phipps’ campaign.
Phipps, the daughter and granddaughter of former governors Bob Scott and Kerr Scott, was convicted in a Wake County court and pleaded guilty to five charges in federal court. The convictions centered on illegal campaign donations and bribes from Amusements of America and other fair vendors.
N.C. State Fair incident
Five people were injured at the N.C. State Fair in 2013, when a ride called the Vortex malfunctioned while riders were leaving their seats.
The owner of the Vortex, Joshua Gene Macaroni, was accused of jump-wiring an electrical box, which bypassed safety measures designed to keep the ride from starting without safety bars in place. The ride’s operator, Timothy Dwayne Tutterow, was said to be aware of the tampering.
Macaroni was sentenced last year to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $22,500 in a plea arrangement. Tutterow was sentenced last year to probation after he pleaded guilty in 2015 to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.