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Officials Say “Mis-Adjustments” Caused Death Of Boy On Free Fall Ride

The seat of a boy who plummeted 430 feet to his death from an Orlando theme park ride last month was manually adjusted before the ride.

Last month, we reported that a 14-year-old boy had plummeted 430 feet to his death from a seat on the Orlando Drop Tower ICON theme park. Now, a horrific revelation has been made in this case, as an investigation has confirmed that the boy’s seat had been modified to allow a bigger gap between the harness and the seat.

Backstory: Teen Plunges To His Death From World’s Tallest Drop Tower At ICON Park Orlando As Parents Look On In Horror

Seat Incorrectly Modified On Free Fall Ride

Tyre Sampson, 14, had traveled to the Florida theme park from his St. Louis home with family and friends on March 24. There, they decided to take a ride on the free-fall attraction, which had opened in December. Billed as the tallest free-standing drop tower in the world, the ride sees passengers fall 400 feet at up to 75 mph.

Daily Mail reported that investigators with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concluded that Sampson slid out of the harness feet first before falling over the seat horn that was located between his legs. They found that while other seats had a gap averaging 3.33 inches between the seat horn and the harness, Sampson’s gap was 6-7 inches. 

Sensors on the ride would typically have let operators know that the gap on Sampson’s seat was too large. However, the sensors on his seat had been modified so that the seat could be approved, even with the wide gap. 

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Florida state Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D) responded to these findings by saying that the sensors were modified “presumably, to allow for larger riders, which should not have happened based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.”

Graphic warning. The video below is extremely intense.

Investigators Blame “Mis-Adjustment” Of Sensors

The person who adjusted the seat sensors has yet to be identified, and it is not known at this time when the modifications took place. The officials who investigated Sampson’s death found that the ride “did not experience a mechanical or electrical failure.”

“The cause of the subject accident was that Tyre Sampson was not properly secured in the seat primarily due to mis-adjustment of the harness proximity sensor,” they said. “The mis-adjustment of the sensor allowed both safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanisms and allowing the ride to commence even though the ride was unsafe.”

Find out more about their findings in the video below.

Theme Park Responds

Trevor Arnold, a lawyer representing the ride owner Orlando Slingshot, responded by saying that “all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided” by the ride’s manufacturer were followed. 

“Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride’s design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms, and history – which of course we welcome,” he said. 

ICON Park released a statement saying that the facility is “deeply troubled” by the investigators’ findings. 

This tragedy was already horrific, but these findings make it even worse. Here’s hoping that incidents like this can be prevented in the future.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Sampson’s family and friends. 

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