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Tyre Sampson, pictured, fell to his death from world’s tallest drop ride in Orlando on March 24
Tyre Sampson, 14, from St. Louis, visited the ICON park with a friend and his family on March 24, and the group decided to ride the Free Fall, which had opened in December.
The ride sees 30 passengers rise up the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, to a height of 430 feet.
They then tilt forwards and plunge 400 feet at speeds reaching 75 mph.
On Monday a team of forensic engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concluded that Sampson had slid out of the harness feet first, sliding over the seat horn that sat between his legs.
The gap between his harness and the top of the seat horn was 6-7 inches, they found. Other seats had a gap averaging 3.33 inches.
State-of-the-art sensors monitoring the three-month-old ride would normally have alerted operators to the fact that the gap was abnormally large.
Sampson, 14, was a rising star on the middle school football player. Despite his young age, he was 6 ft 5″ and weighed around 340lbs, his father said. He fell to his death on March 24
A preliminary accident report revealed that Sampson’s seat was locked: on Monday, a more detailed report concluded that the gap between the seat horn and the harness was abnormally wide
Sampson was sitting in seat one, where the gap between the seat horn and the bottom of the harness was 6-7 inches. The rest of the seats (pictured right) had only an average of 3.33 inch gap
However, the sensors had apparently been modified before Sampson’s ride to approve the seat’s closure, despite the wide gap.
Sampson was 6ft 5 tall and 340lbs, his father Yarnell said. The ride’s operation manual said that the maximum weight of riders was 286lbs. The engineers did not address the question of whether Sampson should have been allowed to ride.
The investigators found that the ride ‘did not experience a mechanical or electrical failure.’
The safety harness on his seat was ‘still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped,’ according to a previous report.
Instead, they wrote, the settings were manually over-ridden.
Marks can be seen on the seat horn over which Sampson slid to his death
Investigators found that the seat sensors had been modified to approve the abnormally large gap between the seat horn and harness
The seat had been manually adjusted, and the sensor tweaked to accept the adjustment
Heart-shaped balloons are released into the sky on March 28 at a vigil for Sampson beneath the ride
The teenager was a promising football player at his St Louis school
‘The cause of the subject accident was that Tyre Sampson was not properly secured in the seat primarily due to mis-adjustment of the harness proximity sensor,’ they stated.
‘The mis-adjustment of the sensor allowed both safety lights to illuminate, improperly satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanisms and allowing the ride to commence even though the ride was unsafe.’
Trevor Arnold, an attorney for Orlando Slingshot, which owns and operates the ride, said in a statement the group followed ‘all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided’ by the ride’s manufacturer.
‘Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride’s design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms and history – which of course we welcome,’ Arnold said in a statement.
A spokesperson from ICON Park said in a statement the company is ‘deeply troubled’ by the preliminary findings of the state’s investigation.