FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Allen Myers has owned and operated amusement park rides for over 40 years. At Palatine Park in Fairmont, a one-day Fourth of July celebration marks the start of his busy season. But for one day of providing fun to kids and their families, days are spent testing and inspecting his rides. He said safety is a growing concern in his business and his top priority.
"It's an everyday issue," Myers said.
He showed 5 News what his crew looks for when inspecting the rides. Every detail is carefully checked. Worn down seat belts are replaced, pins holding parts together are tightened, and every ride has to be level with the ground.
Mobile amusement rides have come under scrutiny in recent years. At the Ohio State Fair last year, one person died and seven more were injured after a ride malfunctioned. That specific ride was inspected three times in the two days prior to the incident.
"It's a pretty good-sized battle, as far as spacing," Myers said. "You can't just drop them anywhere. It's not like a car. These things spread 10-12 feet out each way."
Meyers said an independent inspector checks the rides once a year. Then, the safety responsibility falls on the ride owners. That's not something he takes lightly, closely monitoring each of his rides and the employees that run them.
"You have to work with them a little while before they gain my trust," Myers said. "I don't give them the keys to my vehicle and let them go down to the gas station. You can't trust anybody anymore because you don't know who they are or what they are."
Most issues when it comes to safety on rides, Myers said, are due to human error or a lack of attention to detail owners pay to their rides. Based in Nicholas County, Myers said his company is the only one like it left in West Virginia. That's something he isn't ready to give up just yet.
"I can't turn my back on it; my name is on it," Myers said. "I oversee them like a mother hen over the rides. I couldn't just turn it loose to anyone."