State hires independent engineering firm to investigate Orlando FreeFall death

Quest Engineering previously investigated 2018 Sandblaster roller coaster derailment

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said the state hired Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The state has hired a forensic engineering firm to help investigate the Orlando FreeFall incident that resulted in the death of a 14-year-old boy visiting from Missouri.

Tyre Sampson was visiting Central Florida on spring break last week when he fell from Orlando FreeFall, the world’s tallest drop tower attraction, in Orlando’s ICON Park.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said the state hired Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis, the same company Florida called in to investigate the Sandblaster roller coaster derailment at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk nearly four years ago.

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Two people fell from more than 30 feet when the coaster came off the tracks. Nine people were sent to the hospital.

According to the firm’s website, their engineers use the latest science and forensic technology to reconstruct accidents.

“They will help us look at the engineering of the ride and come up with any, as in the Sandblaster incident that we had, they were able to do a root cause analysis for us and tell us exactly where the failure happened,” Richard Kimsley, the Division of Consumer Services director, said during a news conference in Orlando Friday.

The Sandblaster rollercoaster derailed in June 2018.

According to the firm’s report released in July 2018, engineers found the primary cause of the derailment was speed and said the cars were traveling near 22 mph.

Inspectors said they found grooves in the track and some of them were painted over. The state said that was evidence the coaster derailed several times in the past, but those prior derailments were never reported.

Following the conclusion of the state’s investigation, the Sandblaster roller coaster was permanently shut down. According to the report, it took Quest Engineering a week to conduct its investigation and release its findings.

Fried said the state’s investigation into the Orlando FreeFall incident will take as long it needs to.

“If you ever saw a crash report, a crash scene in a trial that you’ve got people reenacting the scene, that is what these experts will do is basically reenact the scene and come to the conclusions of what happened on that unfortunately fatal night,” Fried said.

She adds state engineers do not reconstruct the incident, which is why they hired outside help.

“The ones that we have hired, our forensic experts, go through and are able to go back and look at the calibrations, go back and look at the mechanisms and the movements, which is not what our engineers do,” Fried said. “Our engineers are purely making sure that the equipment is up to par and the standards per the manual.”

News 6 called Quest Engineering to learn more about their investigation into the Orlando Free Fall incident, but our message was not returned.