Seats on Florida Amusement Park Ride Was Manually Adjusted Before 14-Year-Old Boy Fell to His Death

Creator: Willie J. Allen Jr. | Credit: AP

A seat on a Florida amusement park ride that a 14-year-old boy fell to his death from last month was manually adjusted and unsafe, according to an accident report released Monday.

The sensors on two of the seats on the Orlando FreeFall had been modified so it could operate while those seats had openings almost twice as large as normal, according to a report from the forensic engineering firm hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to investigate the cause of the accident.

That modification allowed Tyre Sampson to fall from the ride, billed as “the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower,” on March 24 while he was visiting ICON Park from his home in Missouri. The ride did not experience a mechanical or electrical failure, the report found.

“The cause of the subject accident was that Tyre Sampson was not properly secured in the seat primarily due to mis-adjustment of the harness proximity sensor,” the report said. “The mis-adjustment of the sensor allowed both safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanisms allowing the ride to commence even though the ride was unsafe.”

On FreeFall, which opened in the center of Orlando’s Entertainment District late last year, 30 riders rise to the top, tilt forward and plunge nearly 400 feet at speeds reaching more than 75 mph, according to a news release from the park in January.

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SOURCE: USA Today, N’dea Yancey-Bragg

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