Ohio fair tragedy highlights Arizona's lack of amusement park ride regulations

Regulations for traveling amusement rides vary from state to state. 12 News' reporter, Monique Griego looks into Arizona?s inspection and insurance requirements for amusement park rides.

An amusement park tragedy in Ohio has some people wondering what's being done to prevent a similar accident in Arizona.

Barry Schaidle is an independent inspector hired to inspect and oversee the rides at local carnivals and state fairs.

When the accident in Ohio occurred he was overseeing the California State Fair, which at the time had a similar ride, called G Force, in use.

“The minute we heard that something had happened to that ride, we went to the ride and shut it down immediately,” Barry Schaidle said.

Once he’s done in California, Schaidle will be heading to Phoenix as an inspector for the Arizona State Fair.

“We stay the entire fair to babysit them (the rides) and make sure that everything is working as it should and that everybody is doing what they're supposed to do,” he said.

But that's only because the state fair chooses to add extra safety measures.

“You're in Arizona, so you do not have an official state inspection program,” Schaidle said.

12 News has verified that Arizona state law does not require them to have constant inspections from Schaidle or anyone like him.

Arizona's amusement park regulations are best described by some as “kind of ambiguous we just know it's important that our guest our safe -- it's about Arizona,” said Jenn Yee, the assistant executive director for the Arizona State Fair.

“We do what we need to do,” she said.

When it comes to amusement park regulations, the vast majority of states have some sort of government oversight.

California has a department that handles yearly state inspections, with Florida taking things a step further by requiring state inspections every time a ride goes up.

In Arizona, parks are required to have insurance and get inspected once a year but the state just asks for documentation -- it doesn’t actually do any of the inspections.

“They don't do anything physically themselves beyond they get some paperwork in,” Schaidle said.

But as we learned in Ohio, even with inspections, accidents can still happen.

The ride that malfunctioned had reportedly passed inspection that morning.

That's why Schaidle believes his job is to cut down any risk as much as is humanly possible.

“I don't answer to anyone at the state," he said. "I don’t answer to anyone but myself and our company and we go out and do it so that my grandchildren can ride it and I can sleep good at night. That's what we do."

In addition to Schaidle the company that owns the rides, RCS, has its own on-site inspector throughout the event.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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