Ride operators focus on safety at Johnson County Fair

August 01, 2017 - 7:23 am

The Johnson County Fair is open for business in Gardner and ride contractors say they are working to make sure families stay safe.

Each ride goes through an inspection before it is set up and then every day of the fair, said James Burlingame, manager of Pride Amusements.

Amusement ride operators have faced increased scrutiny since the August, 2016 death of 10-year-old Caleb Schwab on Verruckt, the world's tallest water slide, at Schlitterbahn in Kansas City, Kansas. 

The state legislature reacted to the Verruckt tragedy by passing the Kansas Amusement Ride Act, which created new requirements, including independent inspectors on all rides that operate in the state.

An 18-year-old Marine Corps recruit was killed July 26 when a ride called the Fire Ball broke apart while in operation at the Ohio State Fair. Seven others were injured. The incident prompted the maker to shut down all Fire Ball rides across the country while an investigation is completed. 

"You don't stay in business if somebody's hurt and it doesn't look good," Burlingame said. "We have very good history for over 30 years and we're lucky enough to never have an accident like that and hope to God we never do."

The Johnson County Fair runs through this Saturday, August 5.

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