Florida FreeFall tragedy: State agency hires forensic engineer to investigate teenage death at amusement park


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A Florida department has hired a forensic engineer to investigate the Orlando FreeFall ride incident where a 14-year-old died after falling from the ride on March 24.

Tire Sampson, 14, died after falling from the Orlando Freefall at ICON Park on March 24.

At a press conference on Friday, Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, said her department hired a forensic engineer from Quest Engineering to help with the investigation into the Orlando FreeFall incident.

Engineers assisting with this investigation were also involved in the investigation after the Sand Blaster roller coaster derailment in Daytona Beach on June 14, 2018, which injured nine people, according to Fox 35 Orlando, according to Fried.

Following the investigation into the Orlando FreeFall incident, Fried said rule changes would be made if necessary.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TRAGEDY: THE AMUSEMENT PARK AT THE CENTER OF DEADLY TEEN FALL WAS BUILT IN DECEMBER

Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner and Democratic candidate for the 2022 Florida gubernatorial race, arrives for a ceremony with US President Joe Biden.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I am also here today to reassure Tyre’s family, friends and all those affected by this tragedy that we are fully committed to finding out what happened so that we can better prevent such tragedies from happening. happen again in the future,” Fried said. “And that’s why we won’t jump to any conclusions until the information is provided to us, and we know all the facts.”

Fried said the ride is closed “indefinitely” and said the ride’s future operating condition will be determined after the investigation is complete.

The Orlando Freefall Tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida is pictured March 28, 2022. Tire Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride last week.

The Orlando Freefall Tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida is pictured March 28, 2022. Tire Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride last week.
(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Image)

The Sand Blaster roller coaster was shut down by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services following an investigation.

An initial inspection of the Orlando FreeFall was performed in December 2021 before the ride opened to the public, and no issues were found with the ride. Amusement park rides must undergo safety inspections every six months after the initial safety inspection.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TEEN DEATH: RIDE SAFETY EXPERT HARNESS ‘WAS NOT TURNED ON PROPERLY’

Samson tire

Samson tire
(FOX 35 Orlando)

An accident report filed by an employee after Sampson fell from the Orlando FreeFall indicates that the harness was still in the locked position when the ride came to a halt.

“FreeFall was coming to [sic] at the bottom of the tower. When the magnets engaged, the customer exited the seat,” an employee wrote in the report. “The harness was still in the down and locked position when the ride stopped.”

The Orlando FreeFall owner’s manual lists the maximum passenger weight as just over 286 pounds. Sampson was 6-foot-5 and weighed 330 pounds, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TEENAGE DEATH: SEAT HARNESS STILL LOCKED AFTER HORRIFYING ACCIDENT AT ORLANDO PARK

Amusement park visitors were in shock after watching a teenager die after falling from one of the park's rides.

Amusement park visitors were in shock after watching a teenager die after falling from one of the park’s rides.
(Fox 35)

Fried said the maximum weight issue will be addressed during the investigation and said the department will do everything in its power to prevent another incident like this from happening.

“We are going to do everything in our power and potentially including increasing our power to make sure something like this never happens again. It is my solemn promise to all that we are going to have a full and thorough investigation that going to be transparent,” Fried said.

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Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

In a statement, SlingShot Group, which operates the Orlando FreeFall, said it would cooperate with the investigation and expressed its deepest sympathy to Sampson’s family and friends.

“We are heartbroken over the incident which claimed the life of one of our guests. We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to his family and friends. We are working with the Sheriff’s Office and conducting the officials on a full investigation. The Orlando FreeFall will be closed until further notice,” the statement read.


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