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Report: 'Manual adjustments' to blame in teen's fatal plunge from ride

Report: 'Manual adjustments' to blame in teen's fatal plunge from ride
Orlando's ICON Park was the scene of the March 24 death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson. File Photo by reunionvacationhomes.com/Wikimedia Commons

April 18 (UPI) -- An investigation has found that manual adjustments made to a ride harness were responsible for the death of a teen at a Florida amusement park, state officials said Monday.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried told reporters a field investigation done by Quest Engineering of Tallahassee, Fla., found that 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death from a thrill ride at Orlando's ICON Park last month because of the manual adjustments.

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"This report confirmed that manual adjustments had been made to the sensor [of] the seat in question that allowed the harness-to-restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint opening range," Fried said.

According to the 14-page forensic report, the erroneous adjustments prevented a safety light from illuminating properly, which in turn meant that an electronic safety mechanism did not shut down the Free Fall ride even though the boy was never properly secured in the seat.

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Tyre, of St. Louis, died March 24 after plummeting from the ride. The 430-foot-tall tower ride raises riders up into the air, before dropping them at speeds of up to 75 mph. Magnets slow the ride dozens of feet from the bottom before bringing it to a stop.

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It was during this slow-down that the boy "came out" of his seat and fell from the ride, according to the state's accident report.

The Orlando Free Fall ride opened in December and was touted as the "world's largest drop tower" ride by its operator, The Slingshot Group.

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Fried's office and the Orange County Sheriff's Office are continuing their investigation of the incident, she said.

"There are many other contributing factors that may have played a role in the incident, and that is what our department is continuing to investigate," she said, adding that due to the ongoing nature of the probe, the drop tower "will remain closed indefinitely."

Tyre's family questioned whether he was too large for the ride. Yarnell Sampson, the teen's father, told CNN he was 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds.

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