A worker stands on top of the Kamikaze ride on the midway at the Clark County Fairgrounds as he helps set up the ride for a previous year’s fair. Bill Lackey/Staff

Ohio State Fair accident: Clark County Fair rides inspected daily

Clark County Fair ride operators inspect rides twice daily and reviewed safety procedures with fair administrators in the wake of a fatal accident in Columbus on Wednesday night.

One man died and seven others were injured when they were thrown after a ride malfunctioned on opening day at the Ohio State Fair.

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Dean Blair, executive director of the Clark County Fairgrounds, met with the company that operates most of the rides at the Clark County Fair on Wednesday night to review their safety measures after the accident at the state fair.

“Certainly we have heartfelt grief over that and our hearts go out to everyone on that,” Blair said.

The 28 rides at the Clark County Fair — significantly fewer than at the state fair, Blair said. All of the Clark County rides were inspected by the Ohio Department of Agriculture before the fair opened. Blair also did an interview with the inspectors.

The Springfield News-Sun has filed a public records request for copies of those inspections but the state hasn’t provided them yet.

The Clark County Fair has a solid safety record, Blair said.

“The inspections are very very thorough,” he said. “I am very very impressed, as a father and grandfather, with the inspection process that takes place.”

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The Clark County Fair also uses more conservative rides, Blair said.

“I get asked daily why I don’t have a little bit more dynamic rides,” he said. “There’s a reason for that.”

The company that operators most of the ride in Clark County, Durant Enterprises, does two inspections per day, Blair said. The rides also are shut down if there’s lightning.

Durant representatives issued a statement saying it extends its sympathies to the families affected by this tragic accident. The state of Ohio prides itself on having one of the best safety programs in the nation, the statements says.

“In conjunction with the Ohio Department of Agriculture Ride Safety Division, Durant Enterprises continues to provide safe and effective inspection policies and procedures to prevent unforeseen events,” the statement says. “We would like to reassure our patrons and partners that we will continue to strive for excellence in providing a safe and fun environment for family entertainment.

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Tate Swensen has been attending the Clark County Fair for the past three years and was there again on Thursday.

“I like showing pigs at the fair but there are a couple of rides I do not like at all,” Swensen said.

The 11-year-old was in his camper at the fairgrounds when he learned about the accident at the state fair Wednesday night. The news shocked him.

“It’s only the first day of the fair, of the Ohio State Fair, and I can’t believe that happened,” Swensen said.

He confessed that the information scared him a little. Swensen rode a few rides Thursday at the Clark County Fair but he said he probably won’t do any at the state fair when he goes to show his pigs there this weekend.

“Because of the ride that broke down, I don’t want to take any chances of any other rides breaking down,” Swensen said.

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