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July 15, 2021 2 min read 13 Comments

Photo by Angelique Downing from Burst

 

This month we have already seen two incidents in the news media related to amusement rides.

First, on July 3rd, a raft overturned on the Raging River ride at Adventureland Park in Polk County, IA. Michael Jaramillo, 11, died and three other family members were injured. His brother David, 16, has been in a medically induced coma since the accident.

The ride had just opened that day for the first time in 2021, and the raft in question had been pulled from service earlier that day in order to repair a deflated air bladder. It is thought at this time that the defective bladder was responsible for the raft taking on water and eventually overturning.

Only a few days later on July 9th, several videos went viral that showed the Magic Carpet ride at the Traverse City National Cherry Festival rocking on its foundation and nearly tipping over. The videos show bystanders rushing over to the ride and standing on its base, which likely prevented the ride from toppling over.

Luckily, for those of us in Ohio, we now have Tyler’s Law in effect for the 2021 fair and festival season. This law was named after 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell, who was killed in 2017 due to a carnival ride falling apart due to corrosion.

The new law was promoted by the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers, was signed into law in 2019 and took effect last November. It makes a number of improvements to the state’s ride inspection process for everything from “Low Intensity Rides” such as kiddie rides and go-karts all the way up to “Tower” and “Roller Coasters”..

Tyler’s Law adopts new ASTM standards for amusement ride safety, establishes minimum requirements for certified inspectors and inspections, and assigns additional duties for amusement ride owners.

Until now, Ohio (like many other states) only recommended using ASTM safety standards but did not require them.

Much work remains to be done regarding the design, construction and inspection of amusement park rides. I recently studied the fatal accident at Kansas City’s Schlitterbahn Water Park, and was shocked to find out that the ride was designed by one of the park owners who did not even have an engineering degree (much less a Professional Engineering license).

What’s your opinion on amusement park rides? Should PEs be required to oversee the designs? Should ASTM standards be required nationally? Or are these incidents merely overblown by the news media? Leave a comment on this posting and let us know!


13 Responses

GEORGE W AKENS
GEORGE W AKENS

August 02, 2021

I am certainly in favor of an Engineer inspecting all transient “carnival” rides, both during dis-assembly and assembly, as that would be the times when the inner workings of the ride would be exposed. I am not sure how it would work, but the material used to manufacture these rides, which have grown to produce incredible forces, must be certified. I am a fan of the “Engineering Disaster” series, and am constantly appalled at how major structural failures are caused because connectors are given little or no thought, and the soil conditions are seemingly ignored.

Francis S Brezny, PE
Francis S Brezny, PE

July 16, 2021

All rides shall follow ASTM standards and be designed by US based Professional Engineers. All state inspection departments shall be under the direct supervision of license structural Professional Engineer who will have the final word on the safety of the ride.

Henry J. Dammeyer, P.E.
Henry J. Dammeyer, P.E.

July 16, 2021

The design, operation, and inspections (note plural) each year should comply with mandatory standards, which at that point would be considered Codes. Many of these “accidents” are due to maintenance issues, improper operation, and a lack of proper inspection. It isn’t just a design issue.

Full disclosure: I testified at Ohio House and Senate hearings on behalf of OSPE on this issue. Based on research and knowledge I am deeply concerned about the traveling portion of the ride industry; experience with the permanent installation rides has been positive. Some might consider me biased towards safety.

Raymond L Evans
Raymond L Evans

July 16, 2021

Yes, ride design and construction should be overseen by professional engineers.

Wayne W. Custer, P.E.
Wayne W. Custer, P.E.

July 16, 2021

As there are manufacturing specs reqiuired on manufactured homes, why not these devices? Also why not codes that cover field installation.

AARON RAYMOND DEWISPELARE
AARON RAYMOND DEWISPELARE

July 16, 2021

Yes, require a PE review of designs.

Chuck Meadows
Chuck Meadows

July 16, 2021

I’ve always been a fan of amusement park rides. Usually, while standing in line waiting to get on a new thrill ride, I would feel a certain comfort in “knowing” that a responsible engineer had overseen and certified the designs, construction, and maintenance. Now, I find out that might not always be the case. Perhaps rides should be classified by “hazard classification”, similar to a dam, with increasing requirements based on degree of risk to public safety. I am interested to see where this goes.

Ronald W Roberts PE
Ronald W Roberts PE

July 16, 2021

Yes, PE’s should oversee the design and ASTM standards should be required nationally.

Donn N Peterson, PE,  D-IBFES
Donn N Peterson, PE, D-IBFES

July 16, 2021

Certainly all “thrill” rides (high risk) should be overseen by licensed engineers. The lines between high risk and low risk rides are blurred and ill-defined. Better to have licensed engineers over seeing all such rides than to err on trying to separate high risk from low risk.

Edward Becks
Edward Becks

July 16, 2021

There have been too many incidents in my lifetime that would seem to indicate not enough is being done to protect the public from carnival mishaps. I would be in favor of legislation mandating PE oversight of design and installation of these rides.

Len Dimitrijevs
Len Dimitrijevs

July 16, 2021

Absolutely should ASTM standards be required to be met nationwide. And a responsible registered PE be required to oversee and approve a ride design.

Thomas A. Kenat, Ph.D., P.E. KenaTech Process Eng.
Thomas A. Kenat, Ph.D., P.E. KenaTech Process Eng.

July 16, 2021

Every new or modified park ride should be required to be designed and/or approved by a Registered Professional Engineer whose expertise is in the relevant field. Thus the mechanical design should have the approval of an engineer licensed as a Mechanical Engineer, the electrical design by an Electrical Engineer, the structure by a Structural Engineer, etc. Special attention should be paid to those rides that are transported from place to place and set up for short term operation at fairs and festivals. Also, the law should require regular inspection of all rides, with more frequent inspection of transient rides.

Martin Frederick Best
Martin Frederick Best

July 16, 2021

Our charge as Professional Engineers is to safeguard the health and safety of the general public. Yes, all amusement park rides should be designed by or under the supervision (i.e., responsible charge) of a Professional Engineer. Additionally, ASTM standards for amusement ride safety should be adopted nationally.

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