Boy Killed in Fall From Ride Exceeded Weight Limit

Manual for Orlando ride gives max weight as 287 pounds; Tyre Sampson reportedly weighed 340
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
Boy Who Fell From Ride Exceeded Weight Limit
Family members of Tyre Sampson release heart-shaped balloons during a vigil in front of the Orlando Free Fall drop tower in ICON Park in Orlando on Monday.   (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

(Newser) – The 14-year-old boy who died after a fall from a 430-foot drop tower ride at Orlando's ICON Park "fell right out of the seat" as the plunging 30-seat circular vehicle started braking, according to a 911 call. "The thing went down the drop, and like when it got closer to the bottom and hit the brakes, the guy fell right out of the seat, and bam. Went straight through the chair and just flopped," the witness said on the call, released Monday by Orange County Fire Rescue, per Fox News. Another 911 caller said "during the middle of the ride, the guy just came off" and ended up "face down" on the ground.

A third caller claimed ride operators "didn't secure the seatbelt" on Tyre Sampson of Missouri. However, workers indicate they checked the boy's shoulder restraint—the ride didn't have seatbelts—before the ride began in a video obtained by WKMG. "You guys are sure you checked it?" one person asks, per Fox. "Yeah, the light was on," another responds, as another worker agrees. According to the ride's operating manual, a green light on a panel indicates a closed restraint, no light indicates an open restraint, and a red light indicates a faulty restraint, per WKMG. A preliminary accident report notes the restraint in question was in "a locked position when the ride stopped."

But Sampson, described as 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, exceeded the ride's maximum weight limit of 287 pounds as laid out in the manual, WOFL reports. In reference to large people, the document instructs operators to "check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly," per WKMG. "If this is not so, do not let this person ride." Sampson, who was reportedly turned away from other rides at the park, "had no way of knowing [about the limitations]," says attorney Bob Hilliard, who's representing the boy's mother, per Newsweek. "This is going to be an issue of lack of supervision and lack of training. A straight-up negligence case." (Read more Florida stories.)

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