ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from an Orlando thrill ride in March was nearly 100 pounds over the weight limit of the attraction, according to an autopsy report released by the Orlando medical examiner’s office Monday.
Tyre Sampson died on March 24 when he fell from the drop tower attraction at ICON Park in Orlando while visiting from Missouri on spring break. He slipped out of his seat about halfway down the Orlando FreeFall
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The autopsy report revealed the teen weighed 383 pounds and was just over 6 feet tall. According to a manual produced by the manufacturer of the ride, Funtime Thrill Rides, the maximum weight allowance for Orlando FreeFall is listed as 130 kilograms, or 286 pounds.
The medical examiner found the 14-year-old had numerous fractures, including to the face, skull, ribs and legs. He also had lacerations to his face, stomach, arms and feet. The autopsy report shows the boy’s death died of blunt force trauma.
Orlando Slingshot Group released a statement following the release of the autopsy report.
A lawsuit filed by the attorneys for Sampson’s family is suing Funtime Thrill Rides, the manufacturer; Slingshot Group, the owner-operator in Florida; and ICON Park, which leased the space.
The lawsuit alleges the ride’s operators should have known that riders could be “subject to unreasonably dangerous and foreseeable risks, and that serious injury and death of the occupants in the ride could result.”
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Regardless, the lawsuit points out that the ride did not have seatbelts, which would have cost operators of Orlando FreeFall $22 per seat for a combined $660 for all seats. It also claims the manufacturer and operator of the ride should have made sure:
- There were visible warnings for riders about height and weight restrictions
- The ride should not have been able to function if all riders were not properly secured
- No one should have been able to manipulate or adjust proximity sensors
- A monitoring system should have been installed to make sure all rider restraints were properly secured
- A mechanism should have been installed to stop the ride if a restraint was not properly secured
The lawsuit also points out there were safer alternative designs other than the designs used in Orlando FreeFall that would have reduced the risk of the rider coming out of the seat.
The attorneys for Sampson’s family said legal action was likely after an independent forensic engineering firm hired in the investigation into Sampson’s death found the operator of the thrill ride manually adjusted the sensors in the seat he was in, which made the ride unsafe.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried announced Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis’ findings nearly one month after the boy’s death. The firm’s 14-page report determined the ride itself did not have an electrical or mechanical failure but a manual adjustment in the seat he was in allowed the ride to operate even when it was unsafe.
Fried said the operator of the Orlando FreeFall made “manual adjustments to the ride resulting in it being unsafe” and allowed the harness’ restraint opening to be “almost double” of the normal opening range. The report shows the harness sensor of the seat Sampson was in was “manually loosened, adjusted, and tightened to allow a restraint opening of near 7 inches.”
“As the FDACS investigation remains ongoing, the Department will not be commenting further at this time beyond what has been previously released,” FDACS said in a statement to News 6 on Monday.