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Extra step added to WV fair ride inspection after Ohio tragedy


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a carnival ride killed one person and injured seven others Wednesday at the Ohio State Fair, the State Fair of West Virginia is taking precautions to ensure a similar ride at the fair will be safe.

“To take an extra step, we are going to do some extra inspecting to that ride to make sure it’s as safe as it can be,” said Kelly Collins, CEO of the fair. “That’s our goal each year, to ensure safety for the fairgoers.”

The extra inspection will be in addition to the fair’s three-step process on the 40-plus attractions coming to the fair Aug. 10.

Reithoffer Shows, a Florida-based traveling carnival company, inspects the rides when it sets them up and before each day of the fair.

“They’re always looking at their rides when they put them on the truck, when they get them off the truck and when they’re building them,” Collins said. “Once they’re up, they inspect them themselves.”

The fair also employs a third-party inspector from Florida, who comes to the fair before opening and “very thoroughly” checks the rides, Collins said.

State law mandates an inspection from the Division of Labor on each ride before opening. Rides that are cleared by the inspector receive a sticker letting operators and patrons know the ride is safe.

“As far as our company, we inspect everyday, at least one time, an hour before the fair ever opens to the public,” said Jeff Alberts, the chief safety inspector for Reithoffer Shows. “Based on how the day goes, how long it is, it can adjust according to what ride it is.”

Every ride comes with a factory-mandated inspection sheet, Alberts said.

“I’m sure everybody is going to refer back to what happened in Ohio, and that was a tragic incident, but I always tell everybody to stop before you ever get on a ride. Be vigilant,” he said. “Watch how they’re operating a ride. Make sure it looks good, sounds good. Watch the operators, make sure they’re doing a good job.”

Alberts said fairgoers should “step back and slow down.”

“I know that in light of the accident in Ohio, everybody is going to be more vigilant, which is a good thing,” he said. “The more eyes you have to check something, the better.”

The similar attraction to the one that malfunctioned in Ohio coming to the West Virginia’s fair is built by the same manufacturer.

“But the building process was totally different,” Alberts said.

The Dutch manufacturer, KGM Project Planning, released a statement Thursday instructing carnival companies to cease operation of certain models of the amusement ride.

The statement said the model of ride at West Virginia’s fair, the Freak Out, was not affected.

Reithoffer Shows closed the Freak Out for two days after the accident out of caution.

“This was a tragic accident,” Alberts said. “Everyone is going to put the carnival business under a microscope, but millions and millions of people across the county ride rides safely and will do so again this week and this month.”

The State Fair of West Virginia will run from Aug. 10-19. For more information visit

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