Autopsy Confirms Teen Killed On Florida Ride Exceeded Weight Limit

Tyre Sampson, 14, died from blunt force trauma when he fell from the drop-tower ride in Florida earlier this year, an autopsy report concluded.
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Family and friends of Tyre Sampson leave flowers and other items at a vigil in front of the Orlando FreeFall drop tower in Florida on March 28.
Family and friends of Tyre Sampson leave flowers and other items at a vigil in front of the Orlando FreeFall drop tower in Florida on March 28.
Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

A 14-year-old boy who fell from a 430-foot amusement park ride in Florida earlier this year was 96 pounds over the ride’s recommended weight limit and died from blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy report.

Tyre Sampson was 6-foot-2 and weighed 383 pounds when he fell to his death while riding the FreeFall drop-tower ride in Orlando on March 24, according to the Orange County Medical Examiner’s report released Monday.

The ride, which towered higher than the Statue of Liberty, had a recommended maximum weight of 287 pounds, according to a ride manual previously released by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, though there have been questions as to whether this weight limit was publicly posted.

The 14-year-old was killed when he fell from the ride. An autopsy concluded his death was accidental and caused by blunt force injuries.
The 14-year-old was killed when he fell from the ride. An autopsy concluded his death was accidental and caused by blunt force injuries.
Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

The middle schooler’s manner of death was ruled accidental. He sustained blunt force injuries to the head and neck and blunt force injuries of the torso, including internal lacerations to his spleen, stomach and liver, according to the medical examiner’s report obtained by HuffPost.

The ride was ordered shut down by the FDACS one day after his death. The department, which has been investigating the incident, declared the attraction “an immediate serious danger to public health, safety, and welfare.”

An attorney representing the ride’s operator, Orlando Slingshot, said they “continue to communicate and cooperate with representatives of Tyre’s family, as well as the Department of Agriculture.”

“We are devoted to working with our lawmakers in making lasting safety changes in the amusement park industry,” attorney Trevor Arnold said in a statement Monday.

An engineering firm hired by the state to help with the investigation concluded back in April that the ride’s operator manually changed some sensors on specific seats on the ride, allowing the ride to operate despite it being unsafe.

These changes resulted in a 6- to 7-inch gap in the harness restraint on Tyre’s seat after the harness’s proximity sensor was “loosened, adjusted, and tightened to allow a restraint opening of near 7 inches,” the report by Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis found.

The Orlando FreeFall drop tower was ordered shut down one day after the teen's death.
The Orlando FreeFall drop tower was ordered shut down one day after the teen's death.
Orlando Sentinel via Getty Images

“During slowing of the ride Tyre Sampson slipped through the gap between the seat and harness, which may have expanded several inches due to inherent seat and harness compliance,” the report states. It added that “many other potential contributions” could have factored into the accident.

State Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D) has said the seats’ sensors were manually adjusted “presumably, to allow for larger riders, which should not have happened based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.”

An attorney representing the ride’s operator told the Orlando Sentinel, following that report’s release in April, that all of the manufacturer’s “protocols, procedures and safety measures” had been followed.

Tyre’s parents have meanwhile filed a lawsuit against several companies related to the ride, accusing them of negligence resulting in their son’s death.

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