Tyre Sampson death: Records show FreeFall ride had max weight of 286lb, 14-yr-old weighed 320lb
State investigators in Orlando released a 200-page rider manual on Monday, March 28, detailing exactly how attendants were supposed to operate the Orlando FreeFall, an attraction under high security after a 14-year-old fell to his death from the ride.
On Thursday, 24 March, Tyre Sampson, a teen from Missouri, during a visit to Orlando while riding the ICON Park ride, fell from his seat and died, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The tragic incident was caught on video that has since gone viral. As a result of this accident, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is investigating the ride and its operation. They are thoroughly investigating both the overseas company credited with creating and manufacturing the ride and its US-based owner and operator.
New records released by the FDACS claim that the General Manager of Funtime Thrill Rides, Hannes Lackner, advocated for no seat belts on Orlando Free Fall. So, keeping in mind the necessary elements to operate the ride smoothly, they have come up with a rider manual. According to which, attendants are also required to test the restraints on individual seats so that each seat is checked twice in a 30-day period, attendants must also manually check the restraints when loading a guest in, pulling on it to ensure it’s locked in. The manual also describes specific limitations for large people.
According to an already existing manual produced by the manufacturer of the ride, Funtime Thrill Rides, the maximum weight allowance for Orlando FreeFall is listed as 130 kilograms or 286 pounds. But, according to a report by News 6, Sampson weighed 320 pounds at the time of his death.
Also, John Stine, the director of marketing and sales for the Slingshot Group of Companies, the owner and operator of Funtime Thrill Rides in Florida, told News 6 there was a height requirement for Orlando FreeFall.
“We have a size restriction,” Stein said. “You have to be 50 inches or taller, and you have to be able to fit in the seat, and so there is really no weight restriction unless you cannot fit in the seat. So this is how we operate, and then the harness blocks you in, and we operate the ride.”
Ken Martin, a Virginia-based private ride safety inspector who has over 25 years of experience and has served as an expert witness in several ride accident cases, said the restraint was not properly secured during the time of Sampson's ride, which could be another cause of the accident.
“I do not care how athletic a person is, or how strong they are. There is no way a person who weighs that amount subjected to -2 G’s can hold themselves in the ride,” Martin said. “I know and have seen pictures of the ride that indicate there are no seat belts on the ride, which would classify it as one redundant safety system.”
Due to some negligence or lack of detailed guidelines in the already existing manual, such tragic incidents as Sampson's death occurred, so FDACS claims that they will be extremely strict and will follow the guidelines of the new rider manual for better and safe operations of the rides.