Engineering professor reacts to Ohio State Fair accident

An assistant professor of engineering at Otterbein University said there are many factors that could cause a ride’s failure


COLUMBUS (WCMH)– The Ohio State Highway Patrol has begun its investigation into what caused the Fire Ball Ride at the Ohio State Fair to fail.

Assistant Professor of Engineering at Otterbein University Michael Hudoba said there are a number of factors that could contribute to the ride’s failure.

“If you imagine you know taking a piece of wood and if you bend it back and forth enough it eventually snaps.”

Hudoba said factors like stress on the equipment created by bolts and other items holding the ride together, and natural forces such as friction and gravity all put pressure on the ride.

He added the one factor that is hard to see is stress caused by fatigue.

“A small amount of force or a small amount of stress that is repetitive thousands and thousands of time a day, a week, a month, and over time you develop internal cracks and internal stress that unfortunately a lot of times on your typical inspection,” said Hudoba.

Right now, there’s no clear reason.

According to the director of the Department of Agriculture, the inspectors undergo continuous training. New inspectors must go through a minimum of one year of training before they go out on their own.

Also, several of the staff members are accredited instructors for the national amusement ride safety organization. This group educates instructors on ride safety to try and prevent tragedies like this from happening.

That is something that the Otterbein University Assistant Professor of Engineering said is their job, too.

“People think if you’re a doctor, I have people’s lives in my hands every day. I mean as engineers we do too.”

Ride inspectors from the Department of Agriculture worked through the evening Wednesday night re-inspecting all of the rides for safety.


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