Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Autopsy confirms that teenager killed on Florida ride exceeds weight limit

A 14-year-old boy who fell from a 430-foot amusement park ride in Florida earlier this year was 96 pounds over the ride’s recommended weight limit and died of blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy report.

Tire Sampson was 6 feet-2 and weighed 383 pounds when he fell dead while riding the FreeFall Falls Tower in Orlando on March 24, according to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s report released Monday.

The ride, which towered higher than the Statue of Liberty, had a recommended maximum weight of 287 pounds, according to a ride guide previously released by the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, although there were questions about whether this weight limit was placed publicly.

The 14-year-old died when he fell off the ride.  An autopsy concluded that his death was accidental and caused by blunt force injuries.
The 14-year-old died when he fell off the ride. An autopsy concluded that his death was accidental and caused by blunt force injuries.

Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

The middle school student’s manner of death was declared accidental. He sustained blunt force injuries to the head and neck and blunt force injuries of the upper body, including internal cuts to his spleen, stomach and liver, according to the medical examiner’s report obtained by HuffPost.

The ride was ordered by the FDACS a day after his death. The department, which investigated the incident, declared the sighting “an immediate serious danger to public health, safety and welfare”.

An attorney representing the ride’s operator, Orlando Slingshot, said they “continue to communicate and work with representatives of Tire’s family, as well as the Department of Agriculture.”

“We are committed to working with our lawmakers to bring about lasting security changes in the amusement park industry,” Attorney Trevor Arnold said in a statement Monday.

An engineering firm hired by the state to help with the investigation concluded in April that the ride’s operator had manually changed some sensors on specific seats on the ride, allowing the ride to function even if it was unsafe.

These changes resulted in a 6- to 7-inch gap in the harness restriction on Tire’s seat after the harness’ proximity sensor was “loosened, adjusted, and tightened to allow a nearly 7-inch restriction opening.” found the report by Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis.

The Orlando FreeFall Falls Tower was closed one day after the teenager's death.
The Orlando FreeFall Falls Tower was closed one day after the teenager’s death.

Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

“During the slowdown of the ride, Tire Sampson slipped through the gap between the seat and the harness, which may have expanded several inches due to inherent seat and harness compliance,” the report reads. It added that “many other potential contributions” could have been taken into account in the accident.

State Representative Geraldine Thompson (D) said the seat sensors were manually adjusted “presumably, to accommodate larger riders, which should not have happened based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.”

A lawyer representing the ride’s operator told the Orlando Sentinel, following the release of that report in April, that all of the manufacturer’s “protocols, procedures and safety precautions” had been followed.

Tire’s parents have meanwhile filed a lawsuit against several companies related to the ride, accusing them of negligence leading to their son’s death.

Nation World News Desk
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