Officials: Safety sensor on teen’s Free Fall harness was manually adjusted before deadly fall

0


Florida officials gave an update Monday on the investigation into a teen’s death at ICON Park. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried held a news conference to provide an update on the ongoing FDACS investigation into the Free Fall incident that resulted in the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson. Quest Engineering has finalized a field investigation report that answers what technically took place, but the next phase of the investigation will focus on how and why, Fried said. The field investigation confirmed the ride operator made manual adjustments to the ride harness that resulted in it being unsafe. “The report confirmed the manual adjustments had been made to the sensor of the seat in question that allowed the harness of the restrained opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint opening range. These mis-adjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the rides’ electronic safety mechanisms that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly restrained in his seat,” Fried said.According to Rep. Geraldine Thompson, there were two seats on the drop tower that “larger” riders were assigned to. The safety sensors on those two seats were manually adjusted so the restraint could be open wider and the safety sensor would still show they were locked in.The report indicates Sampson slipped through the gap between the seat and safety harness. It says that gap is normally three inches but on Sampson’s seat, at the start of the ride, it was between six and seven inches.Officials would not clarify Monday exactly who was responsible for the safety sensor and harness being adjusted.The drop tower will remain closed indefinitely.ICON Park released the following statement:”We are deeply troubled that the preliminary findings of the State’s investigation indicate a sensor on the Orlando FreeFall attraction, which is owned and operated by the SlingShot Group, had been mis-adjusted after the sensor was originally secured in place. ICON Park is committed to providing a safe, fun experience for families. We will continue to support the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with their ongoing investigation.”Attorneys for the Orlando Slingshot Group released this following statement:”Orlando Slingshot has fully cooperated with the State during the initial phase of its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded. All protocols, procedures and safety measures provided to us by the manufacturer of the ride 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. We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry, as the safety of our patrons is always our top priority.” Full news conference below:The attorney representing Sampson’s mother, Nekia Dodd, told WESH 2 News Dodd wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child “She’s trying to grieve and then hearing these aggravating circumstances of somebody intentionally doing this sends her right back into shock and it’s really awful to see a parent go through this,” Michael Haggard, attorney for Sampson’s mother, said.Sampson fell to his death from the ride last month, raising questions about employee training and the design and operation of the ride. Fried announced earlier this month that her Division of Consumer Services hired a forensic engineering firm to assist in the investigation of the accident.WESH 2 EXCLUSIVE: Man who filmed teen’s deadly fall from FreeFall describes horrific ICON Park accidentQuest Engineering out of Tallahassee was tapped for the job. It’s the same firm that was hired in 2018 to investigate the Sandblaster roller coaster in Daytona Beach when that ride derailed.“We are going to do everything in our power, including potentially increasing our power, to make sure that something like this never happens again,” Fried said.Quest experts are paying especially close attention to the seats where a shoulder harness is supposed to keep riders in their seats on the 430-foot tall ride.The engineers are using sophisticated 3D laser scanners to reconstruct the ride creating 360-degree pictures that will later be analyzed for clues.One major contributor might be something as simple as a sign that should have been posted by the ticket window.While the signs limit shorter riders from climbing aboard, there is no mention of weight.WESH 2 Investigates previously reported that the ride maker, Funtime, recommended a maximum rider weight of 287 pounds.RELATED: Deadly ICON Park accident: Investigation into Free Fall reveals ride lacks seatbelts, has unique safety measuresTyre’s family said the boy weighed more than 300 pounds.

Florida officials gave an update Monday on the investigation into a teen’s death at ICON Park.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried held a news conference to provide an update on the ongoing FDACS investigation into the Free Fall incident that resulted in the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson.

Quest Engineering has finalized a field investigation report that answers what technically took place, but the next phase of the investigation will focus on how and why, Fried said.

The field investigation confirmed the ride operator made manual adjustments to the ride harness that resulted in it being unsafe.

“The report confirmed the manual adjustments had been made to the sensor of the seat in question that allowed the harness of the restrained opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint opening range. These mis-adjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the rides’ electronic safety mechanisms that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly restrained in his seat,” Fried said.

According to Rep. Geraldine Thompson, there were two seats on the drop tower that “larger” riders were assigned to. The safety sensors on those two seats were manually adjusted so the restraint could be open wider and the safety sensor would still show they were locked in.

The report indicates Sampson slipped through the gap between the seat and safety harness.

It says that gap is normally three inches but on Sampson’s seat, at the start of the ride, it was between six and seven inches.

sampson harness

Officials would not clarify Monday exactly who was responsible for the safety sensor and harness being adjusted.

The drop tower will remain closed indefinitely.

ICON Park released the following statement:

“We are deeply troubled that the preliminary findings of the State’s investigation indicate a sensor on the Orlando FreeFall attraction, which is owned and operated by the SlingShot Group, had been mis-adjusted after the sensor was originally secured in place. ICON Park is committed to providing a safe, fun experience for families. We will continue to support the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with their ongoing investigation.”

Attorneys for the Orlando Slingshot Group released this following statement:

“Orlando Slingshot has fully cooperated with the State during the initial phase of its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded. All protocols, procedures and safety measures provided to us by the manufacturer of the ride 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. We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry, as the safety of our patrons is always our top priority.”

Full news conference below:

The attorney representing Sampson’s mother, Nekia Dodd, told WESH 2 News Dodd wants to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else’s child

“She’s trying to grieve and then hearing these aggravating circumstances of somebody intentionally doing this sends her right back into shock and it’s really awful to see a parent go through this,” Michael Haggard, attorney for Sampson’s mother, said.

Sampson fell to his death from the ride last month, raising questions about employee training and the design and operation of the ride.

Fried announced earlier this month that her Division of Consumer Services hired a forensic engineering firm to assist in the investigation of the accident.

WESH 2 EXCLUSIVE: Man who filmed teen’s deadly fall from FreeFall describes horrific ICON Park accident

Quest Engineering out of Tallahassee was tapped for the job. It’s the same firm that was hired in 2018 to investigate the Sandblaster roller coaster in Daytona Beach when that ride derailed.

“We are going to do everything in our power, including potentially increasing our power, to make sure that something like this never happens again,” Fried said.

Quest experts are paying especially close attention to the seats where a shoulder harness is supposed to keep riders in their seats on the 430-foot tall ride.

The engineers are using sophisticated 3D laser scanners to reconstruct the ride creating 360-degree pictures that will later be analyzed for clues.

One major contributor might be something as simple as a sign that should have been posted by the ticket window.

While the signs limit shorter riders from climbing aboard, there is no mention of weight.

WESH 2 Investigates previously reported that the ride maker, Funtime, recommended a maximum rider weight of 287 pounds.

RELATED: Deadly ICON Park accident: Investigation into Free Fall reveals ride lacks seatbelts, has unique safety measures

Tyre’s family said the boy weighed more than 300 pounds.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.