Officials say inspection of Orlando ride that killed teen was 'up to par'

Tyre Sampson, 14, died after falling from the Orlando FreeFall last week.

April 01, 2022, 2:40 PM

The Orlando amusement park ride that killed a 14-year-old boy last week was "up to par," officials said Friday.

The Orlando FreeFall opened in last December at ICON Park. The ride has been touted as the world's tallest free-standing drop tower at a height of 430 feet. Up to 30 passengers at a time ride to the top of the tower, where they are tilted toward the ground before going into a nearly 400-foot free fall at over 75 mph.

On March 24, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who was visiting Orlando from Missouri with his football team, died after falling off the ride. A video posted to social media captured the fatal fall, which occurred at the end of the ride's descent.

PHOTO: People visit a makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at the ICON Park entertainment complex, on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
People visit a makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at the ICON Park entertainment complex, on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP

An investigation into the ride's safety is being conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs. During a press briefing Friday, officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation but said inspectors followed the proper protocols before the ride opened to the public.

"Everything that we saw that we inspected to open up the ride … we followed the protocols, we followed the manual and everything was up to par per the manual of the manufacturer," Nikki Fried, commissioner of the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, told reporters.

An initial permit inspection of the ride on Dec. 20, 2021, found "no deficiencies," the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs said last week. The ride's next inspection would have been after six months of operation, it said.

The Orlando FreeFall is closed amid the state's investigation.

PHOTO: A makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson is viewed outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at the ICON Park entertainment complex, on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
A makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson is viewed outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at the ICON Park entertainment complex, on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP

Earlier this week, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service released the accident report related to Tyre's death. According to the report, the over-the-shoulder harness in his seat was "still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped."

The ride's operator, SlingShot Group, said in a statement following Tyre's death that it was "heartbroken" about the incident and was cooperating with authorities and ride officials in the investigation.

On Monday, ICON Park announced it had demanded that the SlingShot Group suspend the operation of another ride that opened late last year, the Orlando SlingShot, "effective immediately, until the attractions are proven to be safe by authorities."

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