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Tyre Sampson's Seat Was ‘Misadjusted’ Before Fatal Drop Tower Fall, Investigators Say

Footage of the ride in orlando

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

A new report revealed an unsettling detail about the events leading up to Tyre Sampson’s theme park death.

As we reported, the 14-year-old plummeted to his death while riding the Orlando Free Fall — the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower at 400 feet — at ICON Park in Florida last month. Now, details are coming out from the investigation, and it appears Sampson’s seat had been maladjusted before the ride took off.

According to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, investigators found that the drop tower’s operator made manual adjustments to a sensor, making the tower become unsafe. Fried explained in a Monday news conference:

“This report confirmed that manual adjustments had been made to the sensor [of] the seat in question that allowed the harness-to-restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint opening range.”

OMG, “almost double”? How could anyone think that would be a good idea?!

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The commissioner added that the irregular adjustments permitted the safety lights in Tyre’s seat to go on, which made the tower able to operate, even though the rider wasn’t properly secured in his seat.

However, other contributing factors might have also played a role in the tragedy, according to the report. State Representative Geraldine Thompson explained to reporters that thrill rides at the park go through a routine inspection; meaning that since the adjustments were made to the ride, an inspection should have followed.

An ongoing investigation is looking to determine if those inspections were made. Thompson said she’s also working on a “Tyre Sampson” bill to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

The Missouri teenager was visiting Central Florida with a friend’s family at the time of his death. Standing at 6-feet, 5-inches tall and weighing over 300 pounds, Tyre was larger than the “maximum passenger weight” of 287 pounds listed in the maintenance manual for the ride.

The victim’s dad said Tyre knew his safety harness was not fitted right prior to his death. Yarnell Sampson told Fox News his son began to panic when the ride took off and was aware the restraint bar was moving. He explained:

“That’s when he started freaking out. And he was explaining to his friends, next to him, ‘I don’t know man, if I don’t make it down, safely, can you please tell my mamma and daddy that I love them.’ For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”

Yarnell said other attractions refused to let the teen on because he was too big; however, Free Fall operators decided to allow him on.

The tower will remain closed indefinitely.

[Image via FOX 35]

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Apr 19, 2022 12:30pm PDT