Following a deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair, Illinois state officials have suspended the use of several carnival rides, including one owned by a Southern Illinois company.
The accident Wednesday on the Fire Ball ride at Ohio’s state fair killed an 18-year-old man and injured seven other people.
Ben Noble, spokesman for Illinois Department of Labor, said the department on Thursday suspended the use of all Fire Ball rides and other similar rides. In Illinois, that suspension covers three Fire Ball rides, eight Freak Out rides and one Extreme ride.
Luehrs Ideal Rides president Andy Schoendienst said he disagreed with the state’s decision to suspend the permit on his almost-new ride.
He said the rides are manufactured by different companies and are no more similar than two trucks built by different companies.
“Are they going to shut down my merry-go-round next ... if I call it a Fire Ball?” he asked. “That’s a little extreme, of course. But they are looking at pictures and saying they look the same — but they are not.”
He said the company was stationed in Indiana on Friday and did not have standing plans to operate in Illinois in the coming weeks.
“For safety to be paramount ... you have to understand the product you’re inspecting — and if you don’t understand the product, you aren’t doing very good inspecting,” Schoendienst said.
Technical Park representatives did not immediately return calls for comment.
Noble said some of the suspended rides were not yet in use. The Extreme ride owned by Luehrs has been in operation since mid-2016, according to posts on the company’s Facebook page.
“Some of them weren’t even scheduled to be assembled; there were only five or six that were assembled and ready to be run,” Noble said of the suspended rides. “Some of them were scheduled later in August. Now that there is a suspension, they won’t even be assembled.”
Noble said there were five rides currently assembled that fell under the suspension — all were located in upstate Illinois, near Chicago. There are two rides in DuPage County and one ride each in Will, Cook and McKinley counties.
Noble said all downstate rides under the suspension were currently in storage and would remain so during the suspension, which he said should be considered “indefinite” at this point.
“This is a temporary suspension. It’s to hear more about the investigation in Ohio and to learn more about the (technical side) of the rides,” Noble said.
Still, Schoendienst disagrees with the decision.
“It was a knee-jerk action, to be honest with you. But now they need to rectify,” he said.
Department of Labor officials inspect every amusement ride open to the public. Those state inspectors conduct about 4,000 ride inspections at stationary parks, traveling carnivals and fairs in Illinois every year.
Owners of Illinois suspended rides include:
- Collinsville — Leuhrs’ Ideal Rides
- Hoffman Estates — All Star Amusements Company, Inc.
- Hoffman Estates — Astro Amusement Company, Inc.
- St. Charles — Windy City Amusements, Inc.
- Crestwood — Blaster Bouncer Chicago
- Marengo — DRS Skinners’ Amusements, Inc.
- Carthage — Deliver the Party
- Lockport — All Around Amusement, Inc.
- Naperville — Alpine Amusement Company, Inc.
- Arlington Heights — Fantasy Amusement Company, Inc.
Source: State of Illinois data portal