TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Commissioner Nikki Fried introduced a framework for new legislation Wednesday that aims to improve rider safety in response to the death of Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old who died after falling more than 70 feet from the Free Fall ride at ICON Park earlier this year.
Sampson’s autopsy, released on June 14, showed he died of blunt force trauma. His manner of death was ruled an accident. Officials said the 14-year-old weighed 383 pounds when he died. The medical examiner noted he was nearly 100 pounds over the ride’s weight limit.
According to a report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, harness sensors on two of the ride’s seats were manipulated to accommodate larger riders. It has yet to be determined who made the adjustment.
In response, Fried released a draft framework for ride safety legislation Wednesday that would put in place additional requirements for ICON Park and other amusement parks to follow.
Among the seven points of interest, the draft framework seeks to add a requirement that safety sensors and other “limiting devices may not be capable of adjustments” that would exceed the maximum tolerance from the manufacturer’s settings.
The draft framework also seeks to strengthen park signage by posting all patron warnings, requirements, and/or exclusions.
The draft also includes an “Amusement Ride Monitoring Program” which would “add new monitoring positions to perform unannounced visits to observe operations.”
The inspector would ensure all operations are following proper procedures and observe the ride in operation to detect unsafe conditions. If unsafe conditions are found, the inspector would pause ride services and follow up with administrative actions.