Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Florida official admits ride manual lacks oversight after boy’s death

The head of the Florida agency charged with investigating whether there were safety failures when a boy fell during a ride at an Orlando amusement park last week while admitting Friday did what thrill ride manufacturers directed in their manuals Yes, there is no direct observation of it. security measures.

Nikki Fried, commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, spoke during a press conference on Friday about the investigation into the death of a 14-year-old Missouri boy, Tyre Sampson, who fell from the Free Fall attraction at ICON Park. 24 March.

When Fried was asked by a reporter to clarify that no federal or state agency oversees what manufacturers put in their ride manuals, he said, “That’s right.”

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“There is no inspection board that says this. However, according to our statutes, every single ride must have an engineer, an affidavit from the engineering firms that sign the affidavit… the protocols of every aspect of the ride, Making sure it’s safe. That’s why we have to make sure that when we authorize a ride to open, we’ve received that documentation from both the manufacturers and a specialist engineer who has performed all the necessary tests. ..and that’s what we have to rely on.” Fried also said the agency hired Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis Inc., a forensic engineering firm based in Tallahassee, to assist with the investigation.

Fried said there was no immediate answer to whether there was a security lapse before the boy’s death.

“We are not taking this lightly. We are going to do everything in our power and, potentially, to increase our power, to make sure this never happens again,” she said. “We are fully committed to finding out what happened so that we can better prevent such tragedies from happening in the future.”

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Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina said during a news conference last week that the incident appeared to be accidental.

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“It appears to be a terrible tragedy,” said the sheriff. “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. We can’t imagine what they are going through,” he said.

Officials of the state agriculture department have said that the free fall ride was inspected for the first time on December 20. No deficiencies were found and the ride passed its inspection, officials said. Because the free fall is a new ride, and the agency conducts safety inspections twice a year, no additional inspections on it occurred prior to the teen’s death, officials said.

On Monday, the Department of Agriculture released documents related to its investigation, including the ride’s operations manual, which states 286.6 pounds is the maximum weight for each rider. It added that attendants need to pay special attention to larger riders and turn them away if they don’t fit.

A state accident report states that the magnets act to stop the ride And that “when the magnets hit, the mentor came out of the seat.” “The harness was still in the down and off position when the ride came to a halt,” the report said.

When construction began on Free Fall in 2019, it was billed as the world’s tallest drop tower ride, with a planned height of over 400 feet.

On Tuesday, Slingshot, the owner of Free Fall and another ride in the park, said both were closed.

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“We have suspended operations of the Freefall Ride and Slingshot Ride at Icon Park,” Slingshot Group CEO Richie Armstrong said in a statement.

Armstrong said, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Tyre Sampson and utterly devastated for his family and loved ones. We are cooperating fully with officials at the state and local levels investigating this tragic incident. are doing.”

Tyre’s uncle Carl Sampson told NBC News that his nephew was in Florida with his football teammates during spring break.

“He was a really good kid. Really respectable. It was always, ‘No sir. Yes sir.’ … He had a bright future ahead of him. He was very intelligent.”

Sampson said his nephew was excited to live in Florida and was a fan of the amusement park. “It’s hard to believe. He was just 14. It was so sad that this happened. He was so young.”

According to NBC affiliate KSDK, a former coach, Arnaud Jones, described him as a straight-up student who never got into trouble. St. Louis.

The ride’s owner and operator have said the boy was secured in safety gear, but the ride lacked a seat belt, which was addressed on Friday by State Representative Geraldine Thompson, who spoke during a media briefing. Thompson’s constituents include Orlando residents.

“Based on the investigation, it may be that we look at seat belts,” Thompson said.

He explained how cars have seat belts and air bags.

“Redundancy is a good thing,” Thompson said. It may be that investigations show that not only the harness, but an additional safety harness, which would have been a seatbelt, could have saved the tire’s life.

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