Six UK theme parks close rides after teenager killed at US fair

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Six theme park rides in the UK have been forced to close after a teenager died on a similar ride in the US.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said five of the rides were re-inspected after the horrifying incident at Ohio State Fair on July 26. 

They have temporarily been taken out of use.

A sixth ride at Lightwater Valley in North Yorkshire was closed immediately by its operator, independently of the HSE.

It comes after 18-year-old high school student Tyler Jarrell died when a swinging and spinning ride called Fire Ball broke apart.

Seven others were injured in the shocking incident, some critically.

Three of the closed rides are at Pleasurewood Hills theme park in Suffolk, Coney Beach Fair in Porthcawl, South Wales, and Brean Theme Park in Somerset, the HSE said. 

A fourth is operated by Ryan Crow Amusements at funfairs in the North East, and a ride owned by a Joseph Manning in Hertfordshire has also been served with a prohibition enforcement notice. 

Lightwater Valley said its Eagle’s Claw ride was not running, telling visitors: “Due to circumstances beyond our control this ride is currently closed, apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.”

The HSE said it was aware of the “tragic accident” involving the KMG Afterburner, which was themed as Fire Ball in Columbus, Ohio. 

A spokeswoman said: “There are six machines of this version operating in the UK which were all thoroughly inspected within the last 12 months in line with agreed procedures.

“There is no verified information regarding the immediate cause of the US accident. Following the incident, HSE initiated a re-inspection of these machines.”

The HSE said it understood a letter had been sent to operators of all similar machines operating in the UK and that some owners may have closed rides “as a precautionary measure.”

It added: “HSE will ensure operators are kept abreast of information as it arrives and will take such action as is necessary to ensure the rides are inspected and tested as necessary to ensure safety.”

Manning’s Amusements said: “The safety of our customers is, of course, of paramount importance to us. We confirm that, as a precaution, the Afterburner ride that was being operated by us was immediately taken out of service pending a full investigation being carried out.

“We are liaising with the HSE and the ride will not re-open until all tests have been completed and we are fully satisfied that there is no risk to passengers.”

A spokesman for Lightwater Valley said the theme park was “deeply saddened” to hear of the US incident.

He continued: “While there are fundamental and significant differences between our ride and the one involved in this terrible incident, we entirely support the HSE’s decision to not operate these types of ride in Great Britain until all the facts are known and a comprehensive investigation has taken place.

The spokesman added: “We will, of course, notify the public when the ride is back in operation.”

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