430-Foot Ride Will Be Taken Down After Teenager's Death

Ride operator says decision is in keeping with wishes of Tyre Sampson's family
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2022 7:05 PM CDT
Updated Oct 6, 2022 4:30 PM CDT
Adjustment Made Teen's Seat on Ride Unsafe: Accident Report
Family members and friends of Tyre Sampson leave items during a vigil in front of the Orlando FreeFall drop tower in ICON Park in Orlando last month.   (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Update: A Florida attraction from which a 14-year-old boy fell to his death in March is being dismantled, the ride's operator announced Thursday. The death of Tyre Sampson is the reason, CNN reports. ICON Park said it appreciated the decision by the operator, Orlando Slingshot, to take down the 430-foot-tall Orlando FreeFall tower. "Tyre's death is a tragedy that we will never forget," the park said in a statement. Orlando Slingshot said it was responding to the wishes of the teenager's family and the community. Our story from April follows:

There was no electrical or mechanical failure on the FreeFall ride that contributed to Tyre Sampson's death last month at an Orlando amusement park, an investigation has found. But the 14-year-old boy's seat had been improperly adjusted, which let the 14-year-old Missouri boy slip off the ride, a report said. "Tyre Sampson was not properly secured in the seat primarily due to mis-adjustment of the harness proximity sensor," it said, per USA Today. The investigation at ICON Park was conducted by a forensic engineering firm hired by the state.

The sensors on two seats had been changed so that their openings were nearly twice as big as they're supposed to be, according to the report—6 inches instead of 3. The gap may have widened during the ride, the report said, and the teenager fell between the seat and the harness when FreeFall slowed. State Rep. Geraldine Thompson said Monday that the adjustment was made "presumably to allow for larger riders," adding that it's unclear who did it. Riders are sent on an almost 400-foot decline from the top at more than 75 mph, the park has said.

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A lawyer for the ride's operator said it had followed all safety measures and protocols laid out by the manufacturer. "Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride's design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms and history—which of course we welcome," Trevor Arnold said in a statement. Florida officials said the ride will stay shut down during the next phases of the investigation, which include whether any state laws or regulations should be changed and whether the operator will be penalized, per WFTV. (More amusement parks stories.)

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