More details are emerging on what caused 14-year-old Tyre Sampson to fall to his death on an amusement park ride in Florida.
On March 24, Sampson was on spring break and had traveled from his home in St. Louis when he fell from the Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park, which takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph. According to USA Today, an accident report revealed the safety sensors on Sampson’s seat were recently manually adjusted, which left a larger gap between the seat and the harness before he fell.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried said at a Monday (April 18) press conference, "This report confirmed our department's findings that an operator of the Orlando drop tower made manual adjustments to the ride, resulting in it being unsafe.”
It’s unknown when the sensors were changed or who made the change. However, the report stated the ride had no electrical or mechanical issue, "The cause of the subject accident was that Tyre Sampson was not properly secured in the seat primarily due to mis-adjustment of the harness proximity sensor," the report stated.
"The mis-adjustment of the sensor allowed both safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the ride's electronic safety mechanisms allowing the ride to commence even though the ride was unsafe."
Trevor Arnold, an attorney for Orlando Slingshot, said in a statement, "Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride’s design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms and history – which of course we welcome.”
Last month, Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told Tampa Bay station WTVT that his son began “freaking out, and he was explaining to his friend next to him, ‘I don’t know man. If I don’t make it down, please tell my Mom and Daddy I love them. For him to say something like that, he must have felt something."
On March 28, state officials released records that included the operator’s manual for the ride, WESH reported. The document states the maximum weight to safely ride is less than 287 pounds. The family’s attorney told the station that the teenager, who looked forward to a possible professional football career, weighed over 300 pounds.
ICON Park said it ordered SlingShot Group, which owns the Orlando FreeFall, to shut down operations until their rides are proven safe and planned to cooperate with the investigation, according to WESH.