Friends remember man who died working on ride

Posted at 11:19 AM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 12:19:19-04

Family members and friends remain in shock after a tragic accident this weekend at the Tulsa fairgrounds.

Veteran ride inspector Steve Shelton,43, died Saturday, and his partner was hurt after a piece of their equipment collapsed while they worked on the Skyride.

According to Amy Elliot with the medical examiner's office, Shelton's death was determined an "accident" and was a result of "complications of cervical spine fractures." 

Shelton's death left his longtime friend, Robby Bell, in disbelief.

"We're burying one of our family members even though he doesn't share our last name," Bell said. "We're two days removed from it now, and it just doesn't feel real. Unfortunately it is."

Bell's family ran Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, and he said Shelton worked there from 1988 until the park's closure in 2006. Despite employing thousands of people during that time, Bell said Shelton stood above the rest.

"I would say that Steve is at the very top of that list," Bell said. "[He was] probably the best employee we ever had."

Bell said he would argue that Shelton was one of the best amusement park ride inspectors in the country. He also remembers Shelton as the physically strongest man he ever met, as well as the kindest.

"We would always say we were glad that God made Steve so nice because if he ever got mad at anybody, it would all be over," Bell said, laughing. "I mean he was a giant of a man, but had just the tenderest [sic] heart."

Shelton is survived by his wife and a five-year-old daughter. The couple's second child is due next week.

Bell hopes the community will rally around the grieving family and offer their support.

"He was a truly wonderful man in a world full of guys that aren't so good," Bell said. "He's a bright, shining star."