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A ride safety expert believes “someone killed” the teenager who died after falling off an amusement park ride in Florida and believes charges should be filed in the teen’s death.
Tyre Sampson, 14, fell to his death from the Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, March 24. An operating manual for the Orlando FreeFall ride says the maximum passenger weight is just over 286 pounds. Sampson, who lived in Missouri, was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and reportedly weighed 360 pounds.
Ken Martin, an amusement park ride safety analyst and consultant, told Fox News Digital he believes the Orlando FreeFall incident is “criminal,” and says “somebody killed Mr. Tyre Sampson.”
“I’m sorry. With all these circumstances, all these incidents that occurred, it’s criminal. Somebody killed Mr. Tyre Sampson,” Martin said.
The Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Fla., March 28, 2022. Tyre Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride. (Orlando Sentinel via Getty)
Martin suggets a grand jury be formed with input from people within the industry, saying that somebody should be charged for Sampson’s death. Martin said the ride’s operator should have seen that the shoulder harness was not in the right spot, adding that “multiple causes” led to the incident.
“Once Mr. Sampson got on the ride, the ride operator should have come around, attempted to pull the shoulder harness over him and lock it,” Martin said. “We all saw that. We know that the shoulder restraint did not come down where it was supposed to be and that, you know, is an issue.”
Tyre Sampson (FOX 35 Orlando)
An accident report filled out by an employee states that the seat harness was in a locked position after Tyre fell out.
“FreeFall was coming … down the tower. When the magnets engaged, the patron came out of the seat,” an employee wrote in the report. “Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped.”
Martin said that a uniform code for amusement parks is needed, specifically for signage alerting passengers of limitations and safety requirements for a specific ride before entering.
Current Florida law allows a manufacturer to decide what goes in — and what stays out — of passenger limitation signs.
Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando, Fla., March 24, 2022. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released its commissioned engineering report performed by Quest Engineering last week, which states that a “proximity sensor” for the harness being used by Sampson was “manually loosened,” meaning Sampson wasn’t properly secured in his seat.
Nikki Fried, Florida commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, said during a press conference last week that “maladjustments” were made to the seat’s proximity sensor that allowed a safety light to illuminate, allowing Sampson to ride even though he was not “properly secured in the seat.”
“These maladjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate – improperly satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanisms — that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in the seat,” Fried said. “The report confirms that manual adjustments had been made to the sensor for the seat in question that allowed the harness’ restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraints opening range.”
The Orlando FreeFall ride is pictured. A 14-year-old boy died after falling from the ride March 24. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)
Samson’s harness had a proximity sensor that “was manually loosened, adjusted and tightened to allow a restraint opening of near seven inches,” according to the report.
Normally, the range is around three inches, according to the report.
“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,” Trevor Arnold, an attorney representing operator Orlando Slingshot, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“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 has been closed since Sampson’s death March 24. Depending on the outcome of the department’s investigation, it could be closed for good, Fried said during a previous press conference.
Fox News’ Jon Brown contributed to this report.