July 15, 2021 2 min read 13 Comments
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!