A new report suggests that a teen’s fatal fall from an Orlando amusement-park ride last month came after manual adjustments were made to sensors on two of the ride’s seats.
Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old from Missouri, died after falling from the 430-foot tower drop on March 24 at Orlando’s ICON Park.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees amusement rides at such businesses, released information Monday about an investigation into the accident.
“This report confirmed our department’s findings that an operator of the Orlando drop tower made manual adjustments to the ride, resulting in it being unsafe,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said during a news conference. Forensic engineering firm Quest Engineering and Failure Analysis, Inc., determined that components of the ride showed no evidence of “physical or mechanical failure.”
Instead, a modification was made that allowed Sampson’s safety harness to remain open wider than the manufacturer intended. The investigation said adjustments were made to sensors on two of the ride’s 30 seats. Sensors designed to determine when safety harnesses are lowered to the appropriate levels were moved, which allowed the restraints to stay open by nearly twice the normal margin.
The operator who made the adjustment has not been identified. Fried told reporters that the investigation is ongoing and the drop tower will remain closed indefinitely. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, said she will propose legislation to make supervision of such rides more stringent.
“This is the tipping point that now requires us to come back to the table to say we need to strengthen these laws and to give the department more responsibility and more authority, in terms of oversight,” said Thompson, who joined Fried at the news conference.