MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A thrill ride at Mall of America shut down Thursday following a state fair tragedy.
Video posted online appears to show the ride in motion moments before a full row of seats breaks off and falls, throwing one teenager to his death and hurting at least seven others.
The fair re-opened Thursday morning, but the rides are closed until they are all re-inspected by the state.
The Mall of America closed “Shredder’s Mutant Masher” for additional inspections on orders from the rides manufacturer. The ride swings like a pendulum as passengers twirl around.
Mall officials say all of its Nickelodeon Universe rides are inspected on a daily basis.
“It’s nice to know they’re taking that precaution, but I worry more about the traveling fairs than something stationary at the Mall of America,” said Anoka County Fair visitor Jamie Shelhamer.
Despite her reservations, she wasn’t afraid to let her kids enjoy carnival rides.
“Of course you always have concerns, but I grew up at the fair. I grew up with rides, so you either got to trust the rides or you don’t,” Shelhamer said.
The Anoka County Fair’s carnival doesn’t have the same type of ride that malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair, but understanding what went wrong is important to those in charge.
“Safety is number one to us, without a doubt,” said Anoka County Fair President Mike Ahlers. “We want to see what happened [in Ohio] so that we can prepare too for anything that might happen.”
The Gopher State Exposition, based in St. Cloud, owns and operates the rides at the Anoka County Fairgrounds.
Randy Forcier, the company’s president, says staff inspect the rides daily before the fair opens and during it.
A third-party inspector also checks them annually. State inspectors check the electrical components of the rides as they move between each event across Minnesota.
“I got 2-year-old twin daughters and this is their playground for most of the day, and I have no problem putting them on any of my rides in this midway,” Forcier said.
He says the staff follow a checklist when inspecting the rides that was created by each ride’s manufacturer.
“If there’s ever an issue [our staff] bring it right to our attention and correct it,” he said.
Even though he’s confident in his rides, the news of what happened in Ohio rattled him.
“I was devastated. I mean it hit me really hard. I started shaking and when I actually seen the video this morning,” Forcier said. “I had a meeting with my employees this morning and I told them that, ‘I know you guys do a good job out here, but I do not want you to take for granted your job, become complacent in anything.'”
The Minnesota State Fair says the “Fire Ball” was not scheduled to be, nor has it been, a part of the Mighty Midway.
In a statement, Minnesota State Fair officials said they have a rigorous ride inspection protocol, where all rides are inspected prior to and daily during the fair. They added, “Safety is our number-one priority.”