The teenager who died March 24 at a Florida theme park was sitting in a seat where safety sensors had been tampered with, a report has revealed.
Tire Samson, 14, was out with a friend and family at Florida’s Icon Park and the group took part in the freefall. On Monday, investigators found Sampson fell from the ride feet first, slipping on the seat horn and collapsing to the ground.
A new report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has found that the Orlando drop tower operator allegedly made manual adjustments to the ride that made it unsafe, the FDACS Commissioner Nikki Fried at a press conference on Monday.
“This report confirmed our department’s conclusion that the Orlando drop tower operator made manual adjustments to the route that made it unsafe.” He added that the fit “enabled the opening of the harness restraint to be almost twice the restraint’s normal opening range.”
Ms Fried said “these misalignments allowed the safety lights to come on and properly satisfy the ride’s electronic safety mechanism which allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Samson was not properly secured in his seat. “.
The FDACS commissioner is still investigating the matter and said there could have been other factors that may have contributed to the teen’s death.
“Given these outstanding concerns, the drop tower will remain closed indefinitely,” Ms Fried said.
The report mentioned that the seat had been adjusted to allow a gap of 6-7 inches wide and still registered as being securely fastened, although all other seats had a gap of only 3.33 inches.
However, the report did not mention whether Samson – a 6ft 5in teenager – should have been allowed to make the ride in the first place.
Samson’s family also said the teenager weighed more than 300 pounds and was turned away from other rides in the park due to height safety concerns.
A manual for the site says: “Be careful when seeing if tall guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit the contours of the seat and that the support fits correctly. If not, don’t let that person ride.
The family is considering legal action against the theme park. Attorney Ben Crump had said “other than the tragic torture video of George Floyd, I think this is the worst tragedy captured on video that I have ever seen”.
He said Samson’s death was “completely preventable”, adding that “we are conducting a thorough investigation into the tragic murder of this 14-year-old child who should never have been killed”.