Sensors were adjusted on ride where teen fell to death

Orlando FreeFall ride
Posted at 2:53 PM, Apr 18, 2022

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — An independent report has concluded that sensors on a Florida amusement park ride were adjusted manually, resulting in a 14-year-old boy not being properly secured before he slipped out and fell to his death.

The report from outside engineers hired to help investigate the accident was released Monday.

It says the average opening for restraints on the seats on the 430-foot free-fall ride was 3.3 inches.

However, the opening of the restraint for the seat used by Tyre Sampson was as much as 7.1 inches.

"These misadjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the ride's electronic safety mechanisms that allowed the ride to operate, even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in his seat," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said.

Sampson was a rising middle school football player in Missouri. He was only 14-years-old but already 6 feet, 5 inches tall and well over 300 pounds.

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said Monday the maximum weight limit for the Drop Tower FreeFall ride is 250 pounds per seat.

Lawyers for his family want to know if negligence about his size, or other factors, played a role in the boy's death.

The ride, which opened late last year, will be closed indefinitely.