Florida lawmaker files bill to increase ride safety nearly 1 year after Orlando FreeFall death

Tyre Sampson, 14, fell to his death from the ICON Park thrill ride on March 24, 2022

ORLANDO, Fla. – A Florida lawmaker recently filed a bill in the Senate to make amusement rides safer in the state nearly a year after 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death from the Orlando FreeFall.

State Sen. Geraldine Thompson named the piece of legislation the Tyre Sampson Act after the teen, who slipped from his seat on the 400-foot-tall ICON Park thrill ride and fell to his death on March 24, 2022, while visiting Orlando from Missouri during spring break.

The bill comes as Thompson, alongside Sen. Randolph Bracy and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, have been pushing for legislative recourse to help prevent the kind of tragedy that happened with Sampson from repeating itself.

The bill would reset safety standards for amusement rides throughout the state by requiring regular ride commissioning and certification reporting on any attraction that undergoes major modifications, independent testing by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, permanent rides operated for the first time in Florida after July 1, 2023, to have a commissioning and certification report on file, permanent rides to apply for an annual permit, an annual affidavit certifying that the ride was inspected in person, an electronic copy of the manufacturer’s current recommended operating instructions and a display of the ride permit.

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It would also allow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to “conduct unannounced inspections for specified purposes” and revise “the circumstances under which the owner or manager of an amusement ride is required to report an accident,” the bill reads in part.

The bill follows an investigation into the Orlando FreeFall, after which Florida officials concluded Sampson’s death was caused by changes made to the seat’s sensors. They then sought a $250,000 administrative fine against the ride’s operator, which has since argued against these findings.

“The proposed changes made by this act are necessary to address the safety problems discovered during the department’s investigation (into Sampson’s death),” the bill read.

The Orlando FreeFall attraction at ICON Park has been closed since the teen’s death and is set to be torn down.

If passed, the Tyre Sampson Act will take effect on July 1.


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