TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida officials have filed an administrative complaint against Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, LLC in connection with the tragic death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell 70 feet from the Free Fall ride at ICON Park. earlier this year.
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried made the announcement Tuesday.
“Today, my department issued an administrative complaint alleging numerous violations of Florida law related to these findings,” Fried said. “We are seeking an administrative fine in excess of $250,000 – one of the highest ever sought – and a permanent revocation of the operator’s license to drive in the state of Florida.”
She added: “Given the scale of this incident, it was important to me that the department took the necessary time to carry out a thorough investigation and make amends.”
In March, a ride investigation found that the proximity sensor on the tire seat had been manually relocated to allow a larger opening for the restraint system than the other seats.
The rider’s weight limit was limited to 287 pounds, but autopsy results showed the teenager weighed 383 pounds. A ride safety analyst said he should never have been allowed to board.
“Because the ride harness proximity sensor was misadjusted, the ride was allowed to start even though it was not safe and led directly to [Tyre’s] fall,” Fried said.
Autopsy results on Tyre showed the 14-year-old suffered serious internal injuries as well as head, neck and torso injuries. His injuries included a broken arm, broken leg, broken jaw and several broken ribs.
His death was ruled an accident.
Fried said there is no manual for ride training and noted that ride operators have received minimal training.
State Senator Geraldine Thompson also joined Fried to share a series of legislative proposals to improve driving safety across the state.
The proposals included expanded signing requirements for reader qualifications. Currently, the law only mandates the marking by the manufacturer of the ride.
Fried also proposed an increased number of “safety systems checks” before engineers sign off during the permitting process, an updated term “major modifications” to include any changes to safety systems, and an increase in required accident reporting from amusement rides.
“Ultimately, we want to apply for new positions with the sole mission of inspecting permanent riding facilities and traveling exhibits and trade shows to monitor safe operations and verify training of on-site personnel during operations,” Fried said.
Security monitors would make unannounced visits to ensure security compliance.
In response to Tuesday’s announcement, attorneys for the Orlando Slingshot ride said, “We continue to support the changes to Florida law outlined today by Agriculture Commissioner Fried and Senator Thompson. We share their goal to prevent a tragic accident like the one involving Tire from ever happening again. We are cooperating and working closely with FDACS and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in their investigations. We have cooperated with the authorities since the accident occurred and will continue to do so in full transparency.
“Immediately following this tragic accident, we immediately conducted an investigation and took appropriate action based on that investigation. This included the suspension of two employees based on the results of our internal investigation. We also brought in two outside firms to improve training, maintenance and safety procedures. We have taken these steps to ensure that continued operations comply with applicable standards and recommendations.”
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