A little more than a month ago, a tragic story left the entire theme park world stunned and heartbroken when 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was released from his seat and fell to his death while riding the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park.
An operating manual from the Orlando FreeFall states that the maximum rider weight for the attraction was just over 286 pounds. Sampson was 6-foot-5 and weighed over 350 pounds. An update in the investigation revealed that the sensors on the attraction seat had been manually adjusted, resulting in dangerous conditions.
ICON Park demanded that SlingShot Group– the company that operates Orlando FreeFall– cease operations of both the FreeFall and the Orlando SlingShot. Protests have been held outside the attraction pushing for it to be taken down and the family has announced that it plans to file a lawsuit.
Ride Safety Expert Ken Martin recently told Fox Digital that someone should be criminally prosecuted in Sampson’s death investigation.
“I’m sorry. With all these circumstances, all these incidents that occurred, it’s criminal. Somebody killed Mr. Tyre Sampson,” Martin said.
He said the ride operators should’ve been able to tell that Sampson’s shoulder restraint wasn’t where it needed to be when they came around for their routine check.
“Once Mr. Sampson got on the ride, the ride operator should have come around, attempted to pull the shoulder harness over him and lock it,” Martin said. “We all saw that. We know that the shoulder restraint did not come down where it was supposed to be and that, you know, is an issue.”
As the investigation is ongoing, the incident has made theme parks across the country and legislators alike to take a hard look at safety measures for Guests. In Tennessee, Dollywood closed its drop tower attraction, Drop Line, out of an abundance of caution because the ride was made by the same manufacturer that constructed Orlando FreeFall.
In addition, many Florida lawmakers are looking to make changes that would affect theme parks across the state, including Walt Disney World Resort and its four Disney Parks, Universal Orlando Resort including Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, as well as SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and many more.
Inside the Magic will continue to keep you updated on this investigation.