ORLANDO (FLV) – Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried announced a $250,000 fine from the owner of the Orlando FreeFall drop tower ride after 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death in March at ICON Park.
Fried issued an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida law related to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ investigation of the ride. The department also wants to revoke the ride’s operating permit in the state of Florida.
The commissioner is seeking an administrative fine exceeding $250,000 from the owner of the ride, which is one of the largest administrative fines the department has ever sought.
“With the magnitude of this incident it was important to me that the department take the necessary time to conduct a thorough investigation and get this right which I believe that we have done to the best of our ability,” Fried said. “The department’s investigation has concluded that Tyre fell from the drop tower due to the changes made by the ride by the operators.”
The investigation concluded Sampson was sitting in one of two seats and the proximity sensor was manually repositioned to allow a larger restraint opening than the ride’s other seats. The investigation also revealed there was minimal training conducted on the ride.
“Because his seat’s harness proximity sensor had been improperly adjusted, the ride was allowed to commence even though the ride was unsafe and led directly to his fall,” Fried explained.
Fried also instructed her staff to forward their findings to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to consider criminal charges.
Fried was joined by state Sen. Geraldine Thompson at the press conference to share her legislative proposal for increasing ride safety.
Thompson shared that the first bill she will file as a member of the Florida Senate will be the Tyre Sampson Law.
“When the millions of people who visit Florida come to this state, we want them to know that there is oversight, that there is accountability, that there are inspections, that there are requirements for training,” Thompson said.
The FDACS legislative objectives include an increase of requirements for patrons qualifications, changes would mandate the posting of all patron requirements, warnings, and/or exclusions included in the ride manual. The objectives also include an annual affidavit, modifications of safety settings, training, maintenance, ride commissioning and certification, restraints and safety systems, accident notifications, and amusement ride monitoring program.
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