TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida state officials have filed an administrative complaint against Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, LLC in the tragic death of 14-year-old Tire Sampson, who fell 70 feet from the Free Fall at ICON Park earlier this year.
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried made the announcement Tuesday.
“Today, my department issued an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida law related to these findings,” Fried said. “We are seeking an administrative fine in excess of $250,000 — one of the largest ever sought and a permanent revocation of the track’s license to operate in the state of Florida.”
He added, “With the magnitude of this incident, it was important to me that the department took the time necessary to conduct a thorough investigation and do it properly.”
In March, an examination of the track found that the proximity sensor on Tire’s seat had been manually repositioned to allow for a larger retention opening than the other seats on the track.
The course’s weight limit for a rider was limited to 287 pounds, however, autopsy results showed the teenager weighed 383 pounds. A ride safety analyst said he should never have been allowed on the ride.
“Because the ride harness proximity sensor was not set correctly, the ride was allowed to start even though it was unsafe and led directly to [Tyre’s] fall,” Fried said.
The results of Tyre’s autopsy showed that the 14-year-old suffered severe internal injuries, as well as injuries to his head, neck and torso. His injuries included a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken jaw and several broken ribs.
His death was ruled an accident.
Fried said there was no training manual and noted that ride operators had undergone minimal training.
Fried was also joined by State Senator Geraldine Thompson to share a series of legislative proposals to increase driving safety across the state.
The proposals included expanded signature requirements for patron qualifications. Right now, the law only requires the road builder to post signs.
Fried also proposed an increased number of “safety system checks” before engineers sign off during the permitting process, an updated “significant modifications” clause to include any changes to safety systems and an increase in required reporting of amusement park accidents.
“Finally, we want to request new positions with the sole mission of inspecting permanent transportation facilities and traveling reports and reports to monitor safe operations and verify the training of field personnel during operations,” Fried said.
Safety monitors will make unannounced visits to ensure safety is being adhered to.
In response to Tuesday’s announcement, advocates for the Orlando Slingshot ride said, “We continue to support the changes to Florida law outlined today by Georgia Commissioner Fried and Senator Thompson. We share their goal to prevent a tragic accident like the one with Tire from happening again. We are cooperating and cooperating closely with FDACS and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in their respective investigations. We have cooperated with the authorities since the accident occurred and will continue to do so with full transparency.
“Immediately following this tragic accident, we immediately investigated and took appropriate action as a result of that investigation. This included the suspension of two employees based on the results of our internal investigation. We also brought in two outside companies to improve our training, maintenance and safety practices. We have taken these steps to ensure that ongoing operations comply with applicable standards and recommendations.”
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