‘It’s Unforgivable’: Operator Error Caused Teen’s Deadly Fall At Amusement Park, Ride Safety Expert Says

(Screenshot: YouTube/News4JAX)

Ashley Carnahan Contributor
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Operator error likely caused the death of a teenager at Florida’s Orland FreeFall ride in ICON Park, a ride safety expert said.

Tyre Sampson, 14, fell to his death after the 430-foot tower marketed as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower came down.

Bill Kitchen, president of U.S. Thrill Rides, told WESH 2 News it was clear from the video Sampson “was not harnessed properly.” “Not to ask him to step off or at least get him properly restrained was, it’s unforgivable. I can’t understand it,” Kitchen said.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency that inspects and oversees some attractions in Florida, released the ride operations manual as well as previous inspections, FOX 35 Orlando reported.

According to the manual, the maximum weight restriction for the ride is 286 pounds. Yarnell, Sampson’s father, says his son weighed 340 pounds, roughly 54 pounds over the limit.

“Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so – Do not let this person ride,” the manual reads. (RELATED: 14-Year-Old Boy Falls Off Amusement Park Ride Labeled As Tallest Of Its Kind In World)

An industry expert told Fox 35 Orlando that operators need to have that weight conversation with guests even if it can be “uncomfortable.” “However uncomfortable it may be, it is a necessary conversation because weight could play a key role in safety or lack thereof in situations like this,” FOX 35 reporter Holly Bristow said the expert told her.

Sampson’s father questioned why his son was allowed onto the ride. “This one particular ride decided, ‘yeah, we can take you c’mon, get on.'” The father said that his son wasn’t allowed on other rides and wondered why he was allowed on the drop tower.

“I’m wondering what happened between now and then where they would say c’mon, you can get on this ride.”