ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — Thursday marked the final time the Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON Park— where 14-year-old Tyre Sampson died in March 2022—was inspected amid safety concerns.
The inspection means the ride can be torn down. The Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services previously said it couldn’t be torn down until after the investigation into Sampson’s death concluded.
Austria-based Funtime Handels inspected the ride, according to WESH. The inspection comes as the park faces a number of legal battles.
Sampson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park . Separately, Florida officials fined the company $250,000 in November and moved to permanently revoke the ride’s operating certificate. The inspectors were hired by the park’s owner and two companies that designed parts of the FreeFall ride, according to WESH.
A March 2022 examination of the ride found that the proximity sensor in Sampson’s seat had been manually repositioned to allow a larger restraint opening than the ride’s other seats. He fell to his death as a result of the adjustment, and a failure to properly secure the teen. The FreeFall owner is fighting against the fine.
On Feb. 17, Trevor Arnold, GrayRobinson P.A., an attorney for Orlando Slingshot, said the company had entered a settlement and resolution with state officials.
“Orlando Eagle Drop recently confirmed a settlement and resolution with FDACS. We are pleased to have resolved this matter with FDACS without the necessity of a formal hearing. As we publicly stated since October, we have been preparing for taking down the FreeFall ride once FDACS concluded its investigation,” Arnold said previously. “The final agreement we reached with FDACS allows us to proceed coordinating a timeline with all involved parties to take down the ride, which we expect will take several weeks.”
In the aftermath of Sampson’s death, state lawmakers have worked to put new legislation on the books to prevent similar accidents from happening.
An attorney for Sampson’s family said the ride should have come down already.
“It’s been almost a year and the fact that this ride is still standing today really is just such a travesty,” Kim Wald, who represents Sampson’s family, told WESH.
Calling the circumstances tragic, Arnold told WESH Thursday that Orlando Eagle was working to move forward with the family as best they can.
“It was obviously an unthinkable tragedy and we have tried to move forward and work with the family as part of the process and we have tried to do that,” Arnold said told WESH. “We have to just continue to try and work through that with them and resolve issues and work with them as best as we can.”