USA Updates Orlando freefall: Florida lawmaker calls for ‘loops’ in law to be closed after teen dies during ride
A Florida lawmaker wants to remove what she calls a “loophole” in Florida law that didn’t require the Orlando freefall to display a “maximum weight” sign on the outside of the ride.
Tyre Sampson, 14, died on March 14 after falling from the Orlando freefall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida. an operating manual for orlando freefall states That maximum passenger weight is just over 286 pounds. Sampson was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and reportedly weighed 360 pounds.
Florida law allows the manufacturers of amusement park rides to determine what goes into and stays out of any passenger limit signs displayed at ride entrances.
Florida House of Representatives member Geraldine Thompson, who represents parts of Orlando, said rides must be required by law to demonstrate any height or weight restrictions.
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“We should make sure that when you approach the ride there is a sign that indicates any height and weight restrictions,” Thompson said. “It must be absolutely mandatory so that, as the consumer approaches the ride, he or she knows what the height and weight restrictions are, and family members and friends who were with the person will know what those restrictions are.” ”
Thompson commented on social media reports purportedly showing a “rider qualifying” sign displayed outside the Orlando freefall, calling it “problematic”.
The sign reportedly lists the minimum height for a person to enter the ride, but does not mention weight. Slingshot Group of Companies would not tell TOU Digital whether the ride displayed a weight limit before the teen’s death.
Additionally, Thompson said there needs to be a number of required training hours for amusement park ride operators, adding that the training component should not be “checkoff” as it currently is.
“I think a specific amount of training is needed, a certain amount of training is needed,” Thompson said. “For example, when I go to the hair salon, I find out that the stylist has over a hundred hours of training, and it reassures me that, you know, I probably won’t lose my hair. But, In this for example, we are talking about life and death.
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“And I know a form is completed and sent to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, but it doesn’t have to be just a checkoff. You know, you check the box, and you send it. There has to be a curriculum in terms of what the training will involve and a sign-off and some sort of certification that the operators have completed the required training.”
Michael Haggard, who is representing Tire’s mother Nekia Dodd, said the Orlando freefall has a weight restriction, but added that it “has not been disclosed to anyone,” according to Click Orlando,
Ken Martin, an amusement park ride safety analyst and consultant, told TOU Digital that a uniform code is required to state that amusement parks are required to display passenger limits, unlike current Florida state law, which mandates manufacturers allows decision making.
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Martin said that “multiple reasons” led to the incident involving Sampson, but said the ride operator should have seen that the shoulder harness was not down enough.
“I think it was several factors that led to this incident,” said Martin, “once Mr. Sampson got on the ride, the ride operator should have come around, pull the shoulder harness over him and lock it. Should have tried to. We all saw that… We know the shoulder restraint didn’t come down where it should have been and you know, that’s an issue.”
The accident report, filled in by an employee, stated that the seat harness was in the off position after the tire fell.
One employee wrote in the report, “Freefall was approaching … at the bottom of the tower. When the magnets hit, the patron came out of the seat.” “When the ride stopped the harness was still in the down and off position.”
Martin also said that there should have been scales on the outside of the ride so that Sampson could be weighed appropriately. He said there are scales specially made for amusement park rides that do not show a person’s weight, but display a green or red color, indicating whether they are suitable for rides. .
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Sampson’s father said in an interview with Orlando 35 that his son might say something that didn’t feel right.
“That’s when the ride took off, that’s when he felt uncomfortable. He was like, ‘This thing’s going on.'” … that’s when he panicked,” Yarnell Sampson Told Fox 35 Orlando, “He was explaining to the friends next to him… ‘If I don’t downvote it… please tell my mom and dad I love them.'” For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced that it has hired a forensic engineer from Quest Engineering to assist with the investigation of the freefall incident.
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Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried said potential rule changes could result in investigations if warranted.
In a statement to TOU Digital, Trevor Arnold, an attorney representing the operator of the Orlando Freefall, said the operator is working with state departments in its investigation.
“The Orlando Eagle Drop continues to cooperate with all state agencies and departments at every level,” Arnold said. “Friday’s pledge by Florida lawmakers to drive change in our industry is welcome. We are committed to working with those in charge to drive change, as the safety of the public is the top priority of the Orlando Eagle Drop.
“On Monday, April 4th, we will have employees from Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on site. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, we will continue to provide additional information, as appropriate.”