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Teen's Harness Was Still Locked After Deadly Amusement Park Ride Fall, Per Accident Report

Footage of the orlando freefall

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

New details have emerged about the investigation into the death of Tyre Sampson, the young teen who fell from an amusement park ride in Florida last week.

As we reported, the 14-year-old was visiting ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday when he went on the Orlando FreeFall ride — the tallest drop tower ride in the world — around 11 p.m. The teen then fell from the tower as it plummeted, reportedly about halfway to the ground; he was rushed to the hospital where he died of his injuries.

An accident report was released by the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services on Monday, and it shed more light on what happened. The report stated that Sampson “came out” of his seat when the ride’s “magnets engaged” upon descent. The teen died from “multiple injuries and trauma,” per the report.

However, they added the surprising detail that Sampson’s “harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped.” So it didn’t come undone? How did he fall out then? It’s starting to sound like the safety feature may just be poorly designed? We mean, we certainly wouldn’t trust it if someone can just fall out even when it’s locked!

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More details about the tragic incident remain the subject of an ongoing investigation. However, the Missouri boy’s family has raised concerns that he might have been too big to safely ride on the tower.

Sampson’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told CNN on Friday that his son was 6 feet and 5 inches tall and 340 lbs. According to the Orlando FreeFall’s safety manual, the max passenger weight is 130 kg, which is about 287 lbs. The manual states:

“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.”

To make matters more curious, Tyre was turned away from two other rides at ICON Park before he was let on the Orlando FreeFall. His cousin Shay Johnson told Spectrum News 13 that Tyre called her up after she dropped him off at the park to explain that his attempt to get on a swing ride had been unsuccessful.

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She recalled:

“He said, ‘They said I’m too big. I can’t ride.’”

Johnson noted that her cousin said he also wasn’t allowed to get on the SlingShot, which shares the same operator as the FreeFall ride. When he was finally able to get on the FreeFall, he called her right before boarding the attraction to tell her the good news.

She shared:

“I didn’t know it would be my last time talking to him alive. He just wanted to ride and have a good time.”

Just awful.

The ride, which opened in late December, passed its initial permit inspection with “no deficiencies,” according to the FDACS’s media release. The ride will remain “closed for the foreseeable future and will not re-open until all questions are answered as part of the ongoing FDACS investigation.”

In a statement posted to their website, ICON Park said they’re continuing to “fully cooperate” with authorities, noting that they had suspended operations of both Orlando FreeFall and Orlando SlingShot. The statement read:

“As the landlord of the 20-acre entertainment destination in the center of the Orlando Entertainment District, ICON Park’s mission is to provide safe, family entertainment. We continue to grieve the passing of Tyre Sampson and our thoughts are with his family and friends. This was the saddest day in the history of ICON Park and we’re working hard to make sure this never happens again.”

During a Friday press conference, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said they’ll be “looking into” a number of factors, but that based on preliminary evidence, “it appears to be a terrible tragedy.” Police also stressed that “absolutely no criminal charges” had been filed.

Once again, our hearts go out to Tyre’s loved ones at this devastating time.

[Image via News4JAX]

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Mar 30, 2022 15:20pm PDT