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14-year-old fell to his death from 131-metre-high US amusement park ride after seat manually adjusted

Business Insider US
The Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON park in Florida.
  • Tyre Sampson died after falling feet-first out of a drop-tower ride at the ICON Park in Orlando, Florida. 
  • He fell through his seat, which, per the report, had an abnormally large gap between the "horn" and the harness.
  • Manual adjustments had been made to the seat and safety sensors, the report said.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

New evidence shows that a 14-year-old boy died after falling from a 131-metre-high amusement park ride at the ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, due to seat and safety sensors adjustments.

A report commissioned by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) into the death in March shows that the seat that 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell out of was adjusted to allow for a larger opening from the harness on the world's tallest free-standing drop tower.

Each seat on the FreeFall drop-tower ride has a harness element that goes over riders' shoulders. On the seat, there is a "horn" that sits between riders' legs.

The gap between the horn and the harness should be 8 to 4 centimetres. But the gap in Seat 1, where Sampson was seated, was between 15 and 18 centimetres. 

Seat 1, in which Tyre Sampson was sitting, had a gap between the horn and the harness measuring between six and seven inches. The rest of the seats, pictured right, had an average gap of 3.3 inches.

Usually, a gap this large would trigger safety sensors on the ride and stop the lift from starting. However, the sensors on Seat 1 had been tweaked to accept the adjustment.

This was "presumably to allow for larger riders, which should not have happened based on the manufacturer's guidelines," said Florida Rep. Geraldine Thompson, per MailOnline.

It is not immediately clear who made the adjustments or when.

A "misadjustment" of the sensor meant the ride's electronic safety mechanism did not set off, the report said, allowing it to commence even though it was unsafe.

When the ride was moving, Sampson fell out of the ride feet-first. Photos and videos of the accident went viral online.  

Before this report, several questions were raised as to why Sampson was allowed on this ride, as he was over the weight limit and thus rejected from going on other rides in ICON Park.

Despite the report's findings, however, there are still unanswered questions.

The report stated that "there are many other potential contributions to the cause of the accident, and this report in no way assures the safety of the ride in the normal, adjusted, or unadjusted harness positions." 

Noting this, FDACS Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement that the ride would remain closed indefinitely. 

Fried announced the report's finding at a press conference Monday, saying it "confirmed our department's findings that an operator of the Orlando drop-tower made manual adjustments to the ride, resulting in it being unsafe."

In reaction to this report, ICON Park issued a statement. It said: "We are deeply troubled that the preliminary findings of the State's investigation, released today, indicate a sensor on the Orlando FreeFall attraction, which is owned and operated by the SlingShot Group, had been misadjusted after the sensor was originally secured in place."

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