Freefall Ride Death Mystery: Lawmakers Want More Regulations

A member of the Florida House of Representatives, Geraldine Thompson, found a “loophole” in the law that, according to her, was responsible for the death of a teenager who fell from a FreeFall ride last month.

Tyre Sampson, aged 14, died after falling off the ride in an Orlando park, which raised the eyebrows of stakeholders about the safety mechanism followed in amusement parks all over the country.

Death by Falling Off a Free Fall Ride 

There are many speculations about what caused Sampson’s death.

A video shot just before the start of the deadly ride explicitly shows that Sampson’s harness was not properly locked.

Despite this, authorities claim it was locked when the ride came back down after the fall of the unfortunate rider.

According to Geraldine Thompson, the “maximum weight” sign was not present outside the ride, which made the accident possible.

As per the operation manual of the FreeFall, the maximum weight allowed on the ride was 286 pounds. However, the teenager weighed almost 360 pounds at the time of the accident.

Currently, Florida laws leave it to the manufacturers of amusement park rides to choose what type of signage they want to display on entry points of the rides.

However, Thompson is of the view that ride owners should be required by law to display maximum weight and height limits.

She suggested these restrictions would help consumers, as well as their family members, know the safe limits of any specific ride.

While the sign mentioned outside the ride did mention the minimum height to enter the ride, it did not mention the weight limit for riders.

Ride Operators Need to Be Regulated

Likewise, Thompson believes ride operators in amusement parks should be qualified with a minimum number of training hours before they can run machines.

She made an analogy of the swing with a hair salon, stating whenever she goes to a salon, she knows a stylist is trained for a minimum number of hours required; that should also be the case in amusement parks.

The lawmaker further claimed she knew about the procedural requirement of recruiting ride operators, but that is too little to stop such deadly incidents.

Thus, a proper curriculum needs to be devised to give certification to the operators of every ride, Thompson added.

Micheal Haggar, the representative of Tyre’s mother, stated although Orlando FreeFall has weight restrictions, they were not disclosed to anyone.

According to the analyst of amusement park safety rides, Ken Martin, a uniform code has to be established for every ride.

This should tell people about different restrictions on the ride, as compared to the current Florida state law.

Moreover, Martin asserted the ride operator should have noted that the shoulder restraint of Sampson was not properly placed before the start of the ride.