An independent expert has weighed in on the tragic death of Tyre Sampson, 14, who fell to his death from an amusement park ride in Florida.
“It’s clear to anybody, not just ride safety engineers, that that boy was not harnessed properly,” local Orlando station WESH quotes Bill Kitchen, president of the entertainment design and consulting company U.S. Thrill Rides.
Kitchen, who watched a video of the accident, blamed the ride operators for failing to ensure the 6-foot-5-inch teenager was secured.
“Not to ask him to step off or at least get him properly restrained was, it’s unforgivable. I can’t understand it,” Kitchen added.
Tyre, on spring break from St. Louis, Mo. fell on March 24 from the Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park, which takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph, CNN reported.
Civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard say the ride’s operator was negligent in Tyre’s death.
Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told WTVT that his son began “freaking out, and he was explaining to his friend next to him, ‘I don’t know man. If I don’t make it down, please tell my Mom and Daddy I love them. For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”
Hilliard points out that the negligence of the late teen’s death involved his height, weight, and safety parameters.
“This young man, he was athletic and he was big. He had no way of knowing,” ABC News quoted Hilliard. “This is going to be an issue of a lack of supervision and lack of training. A straight-up negligence case.”
State officials released records Monday (March 28) that included the operator’s manual for the ride, WESH reported. The document states the maximum weight to safely ride is less than 287 pounds. The family’s attorney told the station that the teenager, who looked forward to a possible professional football career, weighed over 300 pounds.
ICON Park said it ordered SlingShot Group, which owns the Orlando FreeFall, to shut down operations until their rides are proven safe and planned to cooperate with the investigation, according to WESH.
“We continue to grieve the passing of Tyre Sampson and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the park’s statement said. “This was the saddest day in the history of ICON Park and we’re working hard to make sure this never happens again.”