Accident report in teen’s Florida park ride death says seat was locked
Mar 29, 2022, 7:50 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:17 pm
(CNN) — The seat of a teen who fell to his death from an amusement park ride in Florida last week was still locked, according to an accident report from the state.
Tyre Sampson, 14, fell Thursday from the FreeFall drop tower that takes riders up 430 feet and then drops at speeds of up to 75 mph, according to ICON Park in Orlando, where the incident happened.
Sampson came out of the seat when the magnets engaged to slow the ride during the descent, according to the report, which was based on ride employee witnesses and was obtained by CNN.
“Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped,” said the report from the Fair Rides division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The report named three witnesses, all listed as employees.
There are also questions around whether the teenager may have been too large to be allowed on the ride.
Sampson’s father, Yarnell Sampson, raised that question Friday, telling CNN: “My son was 6’5″, 340. So, he’s a big guy.”
The ride’s Operations & Maintenance Manual, which has been posted online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, indicates the maximum passenger weight is 130 kilograms (approximately 287 pounds).
“Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so – Do not let this person ride,” the manual states.
It’s not clear if Sampson fit the contours of the seat or if the bracket fit properly.
CNN has reached out to the ride operator, Slingshot, and ICON Park to ask if there was a weight limit for the ride and whether Sampson fit properly.
Video circulating on social media, purportedly of the ICON Park incident, shows a person falling from their seat about five seconds into the ride’s drop, perhaps about two-thirds of the way down, as the ride slowed as it approached the ground.
The accident is still under investigation, and the FreeFall ride is closed for now.
ICON Park on Monday said it has demanded that Slingshot suspend another of its rides at the park, the Orlando SlingShot, “until such time as a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities has been completed and all parties are satisfied that the rides are safe for the public,” the park landlord said in a statement.
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