Orlando FreeFall’s operator made manual adjustments to ride, state finds

Florida officials have released a report on what may have led to the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson when he fell from a ride at Orlando’s ICON Park last month.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced the agency found the operator of the Orlando FreeFall ride had made manual adjustments to the harness restraints on two seats.

The report did not name the operator who allegedly made the manual adjustments, WFLA reported.

Adjustments were made to the “sensor of the seat in question to allow the harness restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint opening range,” Fried said, according to WFTV.

Seat 1, where Sampson sat, was manually loosened and allowed the restraint to be open seven inches, WFLA reported.

“During slowing of the ride Tyre Sampson slipped through the gap between the seat and harness, which may have expanded several inches due to inherent seat and harness compliance,” the investigation found, according to WFLA.

The adjustments, according to Fried, allowed the ride’s safety lights to “illuminate, improperly, satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanism that allowed the ride to operate, even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in the seat.”

Trevor Arnold, the attorney for Orlando Slighshot released the following statement to the Cox Media Group National Content Desk:

“Orlando Slingshot has fully cooperated with the State during the initial phase of its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded.   All protocols, procedures and safety measures provided to us by the manufacturer of the ride were followed.  Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride’s design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms and history – which of course we welcome.   We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry, as the safety of our patrons is always our top priority.”

The ride had been open for less than six months when Sampson fell on March 24 and was last inspected in December, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said, according to WFLA.

You can read the report in its entirety on our sister site, WFTV.

The ride will be closed indefinitely as Fried’s office continues its investigation, including determining whether the operator will face penalties and if any changes are needed to the state’s regulations.