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Orlando FreeFall: Florida lawmaker calls for ‘loophole’ in law to be closed after teen dies during commute


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A Florida lawmaker wants to close what she calls a “loophole” in Florida law that didn’t require the Orlando FreeFall to display a “maximum weight” sign outside the ride.

Tire Sampson, 14, died after falling from the Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida on March 24. A user manual for the Orlando Freefall States that the maximum passenger weight is just over 286 pounds. Sampson was 6-foot-5 and weighed 360 pounds.

Florida law allows manufacturers of amusement park rides to determine what goes into any passenger restriction signage displayed at ride entrances and what remains.

Geraldine Thompson, a member of the Florida House of Representatives who represents parts of Orlando, said rides should be required by law to display any height or weight restrictions.

ORLANDO FREEFALL: FLORIDA ‘LOOPHOLE’ LAW MAY HAVE LEFT TEEN RIDER IN DEATH TRAP: EXPERT

Samson tire
(FOX 35 Orlando)

“We need to make sure there is signage when approaching the ride that indicates any height and weight restrictions,” Thompson said. “It should absolutely be mandatory so that when the consumer approaches the ride, he or she knows what the height and weight restrictions are, and family members and friends who were with that person would know what those restrictions are. limitations.”

Thompson commented on social media reports allegedly showing the “driver qualifications” sign posted outside the Orlando FreeFall, calling it “problematic”.

The sign would indicate the minimum height for an individual to enter the ride, but does not mention the weight. The SlingShot group of companies did not reveal to Fox News Digital whether the ride had a weight limit before the teen’s death.

Additionally, Thompson said there must be a certain number of hours of training required for operators of amusement park rides, adding that the training component should not be a “fee” as it is. the case currently.

“I think there has to be a specific amount of training required, a certain number of hours of training required,” Thompson said. “For example, when I go to the hair salon, I know that the stylist has had over a hundred hours of training, and that assures me that, you know, maybe my hair won’t fall out. But, in this example, we are talking about life and death.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TRAGEDY: STATE AGENCY HIRES LEGISLATIVE ENGINEER TO INVESTIGATE DEATH OF TEEN AMUSEMENT PARK

The Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida on March 28, 2022. Tire Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride.

The Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida on March 28, 2022. Tire Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride.
(Orlando Sentinel via Getty)

“And I know a form is filled out and sent to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but it shouldn’t just be a check mark. You know, you check the box and you send it. There should be having a program in terms of what the training will entail and an endorsement and some sort of certification that the operators have completed the required training.”

Michael Haggard, who represents Nekia Dodd, Tyre’s mother, said the Orlando FreeFall had a weight restriction, but added that it “is not disclosed to anyone”, according to ClickOrlando.

Ken Martin, an amusement park security analyst and consultant, told Fox News Digital that a uniform code is needed to tell amusement parks what passenger limitations must be posted, as opposed to the current law of the park. state of Florida that allows the manufacturer to decide.

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

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

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

Martin said “multiple causes” led to the incident involving Sampson, but said the ride operator should have seen that the shoulder harness was not down far enough.

“I think there were several causes that led to this occurrence,” Martin said, “Once Mr. Sampson got on the ride, the ride operator should have come, attempted to pull the shoulder harness on him and to lock it in. We’ve all seen that… we know the shoulder belt didn’t go down where it was supposed to and that, you know, that’s a problem.”

An accident report filed by an employee indicates that the seat harness was in the locked position after Tyr fell.

“FreeFall was coming…to 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.”

Martin also said there should have been scales outside the ride that would have allowed Sampson to be weighed appropriately. He added that there are scales specifically designed for amusement park rides that do not make an individual’s weight visible, but display the color green or red, which would indicate whether they are suitable for the ride.

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

Tyree Sampson and Yarnell Sampson

Tyree Sampson and Yarnell Sampson
(FOX 35 Orlando)

Sampson’s father said in an interview with Orlando 35 that his son could tell something was wrong.

“When the ride took off, that’s when he felt uneasy. He was like, ‘This thing is moving.’ … That’s when he started freaking out,” Yarnell Sampson says FOX 35 Orlando. “He was explaining to his friends next to him…” If I don’t make it…please tell my mom and dad I love them. “For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that it has hired a forensic engineer from Quest Engineering to help investigate the FreeFall incident.

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The wheel at ICON Park is on the left, Orlando SlingShot in the middle, and Orlando FreeFall is on the right. A 14-year-old boy died after falling from the Orlando FreeFall ride on March 24.

The wheel at ICON Park is on the left, Orlando SlingShot in the middle, and Orlando FreeFall is on the right. A 14-year-old boy died after falling from the Orlando FreeFall ride on March 24.
(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture and consumer services commissioner, said potential rule changes could result from the investigation if warranted.

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Trevor Arnold, an attorney representing the operator of the Orlando FreeFall, said the operator was working with state departments in their investigations.

“Orlando Eagle Drop continues to cooperate at all levels with all state agencies and departments conducting their respective investigations,” Arnold said. “Friday’s promise from Florida lawmakers to effect change in our industry is welcome. We are committed to working with officials to make a difference, as public safety remains Orlando Eagle Drop’s top priority.

“On Monday, April 4, we will have personnel from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on the site. We will continue to provide additional information as appropriate, given our respect for the ongoing investigations.”


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