In the two years since 18-year-old Tyler Jarrell died in a ride accident at the Ohio State Fair, Ohio Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) has worked to create legislation he hopes will give state officials the tools to prevent similar tragedies.
Patterson’s bipartisan bill — co-sponsored by Louis Blessing (R-Colerain Township) — was signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Mike DeWine.
House Bill 189 has become known as Tyler’s Law and it takes effect immediately thanks to an attached emergency clause. Patterson said that is an indication of the legislation’s importance.
“In the passage of this legislation, we honor Tyler Jarrell and his commitment to serve and protect,” Patterson said. “In the wake of tragedy, I have been honored and blessed to have spent so much time with Tyler’s family, learning of his legacy as we worked to ensure another preventable tragedy like this never happens again. I believe Tyler’s Law is a critical step in better protecting our people.”
Jarrell, of Columbus, died after the Fire Ball ride failed and broke apart on the first day of the Ohio State Fair in 2017. Seven others were injured, including 18-year-old Jennifer Lambert, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and died a year after the accident.
“Though it saddens us all that tragedy ultimately drove this legislation, we can take comfort that with the passage of this legislation, other families may be spared the grief of losing a loved one from an amusement ride breakdown,” Blessing said.
“Furthermore, Ohioans can rest assured that amusement rides in this state will have gone through more rigorous inspections, and that all they should have to worry about is having fun.”
The legislation aims to increase amusement park safety and inspection standards in Ohio, the qualifications of inspectors and the responsibilities of ride owners.
Patterson said one part of the new law was specific the cause of the Fire Ball ride disaster, which an investigation showed as partially cause by damage to the ride from winter use in the Caribbean.
“There was corrosion created by exposure to salt in the air while it was in use in the Caribbean,” Patterson said.
He said one aspect of the bill requires ride owners to inform the Ohio Department of Agriculture if a ride is outside Ohio for more than 30 days during a year.
HB 189 aims to increase communication among state inspectors, ride manufacturers, ride owners and the ODA to better assess amusement ride inspections and repairs, including:
• An enhanced classification system to identify rides that may need more comprehensive or internal inspection.
• Requiring safety and maintenance communications from the ride manufacturer to be forwarded to ODA.
• Tracking previous locations of temporary amusement rides prior to their operation in Ohio.
• Requiring photographic documentation of major repairs before and after they are completed.
Tyler’s Law also increases the certification standards for inspectors, and adds a Professional Engineer as a non-voting member to the ODA Advisory Council on Amusement Ride Safety.
Amber Duffield, Jarrell’s mother, attended the signing ceremony on Wednesday at the Ohio Statehouse. Patterson said Duffield was presented with the gavel after DeWine signed the bill into law.
“It has been really meaningful to be a part of this,” Patterson said.