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Was Tyre Sampson's death a result of UNSAFE ride? New findings reveal shocking details

The seat harness was manually adjusted to twice its normal range so Sampson was 'not properly secured in his seat' family retains lawyer Ben Crump
UPDATED APR 19, 2022
The safety harness on ICON Park's Free Fall ride (Quest Engineering for the FDACS) and Tyre Sampson (Facebook)
The safety harness on ICON Park's Free Fall ride (Quest Engineering for the FDACS) and Tyre Sampson (Facebook)

Florida's ICON park is facing the possibility of a lawsuit over the death of Tyre Sampson after stunning new details were revealed by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). According to a new report by the FDACS, the Free Fall ride at the Orlando park had its safety harness manually adjusted, so Sampson was "not properly secured in his seat." 

Family and friends of the 14-year-old have been calling for the ride to be shut down, after his tragic fall and death from the ride on March 24. In large part, his tragic death appears to be due to the park ignoring the safety requirements of the ride. As we reported earlier, the Free Fall had a max weight limit of 286lb, but Sampson was still allowed on despite being over that limit. 911 calls also revealed that the staff allegedly didn't secure his seatbelt


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On April 18, more damning evidence came to light, indicating that the staff are indeed to blame for Sampson's death. A report from the FDACS indicates that the safety harness was well out of place, which is believed to have led to his fall and eventual death.

The Free Fall ride at Orlando's ICON park. (Twitter)

Safety harness in the spotlight

The teen's father Yarnell Sampson noted earlier that ICON was one of the only parks to let Sampson on the ride. "This particular ride decided ‘yeah, we can take you, get on,’ when nobody else would allow him to get on the rides," he said. In order to accommodate the teen, it appears the staff completely ignored the safety guideline for the ride. "Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so — Do not let this person ride," the manual says.

Despite that, it appears the staff led Sampson ride because "the harness restraint opening was almost double that of the normal restraint opening range." As a result, the safety light for the ride indicated the ride was good to start, even though Sampson was not properly secured. The report says the opening should have been around 8.3cm, but on Sampson's seat, it was 18cm. It is unclear at this moment if the adjustments were made specifically for Sampson, or if it was made much earlier. The FDACS report does not say who made the change and when. 

We do know the adjustment was made manually by someone at the park, but Commissioner Nikki Fried was quick to note that it wasn't the only reason. "There are many other potential contributing factors that may have played a role in the incident, and that is what our department is continuing to investigate," she said. In a statement, ICON responded, "We are deeply troubled that the preliminary findings of the State's investigation indicate a sensor had been mis-adjusted." 

The safety harness was measured by the FDACS at ICON park. (Quest Engineering for the FDACS)

Will ICON be sued?

Sampson's family has reportedly retained noted attorney Ben Crump and is mulling legal action against the park. Shortly after Sampson's death, Crump called it "the worst tragedy captured on video" since George Floyd's killing. So far, the family has not confirmed if they will actually sue the park, but given the fact Crump is now involved, it seems likely. The latest news also further indicates that it was negligence from the park's side that led to Sampson's death.

As Fried noted, the revelation does not indicate that the investigation is over. More damning details could come out in the following days, giving the family a good case against ICON park.