The operator of an Orlando amusement park ride where a Missouri teen died must pay a $250,000 fine and can never again hold a Florida ride permit, state officials said Tuesday.
Fourteen-year-old Tire Sampson fell to his death from the 400-foot drop tower operated by Orlando Slingshot in March.
“What we can do is make sure that our laws don’t allow this to happen to anyone else,” said Nikki Fried, state commissioner for agriculture and consumer services.
An autopsy showed that Tire, a football player and honor roll student from the St. Louis area, suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries in the fall, and his death from blunt force trauma was ruled an accident. It showed that Tire weighed 383 pounds, well over the travel manual weight limit of 287 pounds.
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The promenade, on Orlando’s International Drive, ideal for tourists, is being dismantled.
Requirements are being put in place that will ensure Florida attractions are safe going forward, and the department’s investigation will be turned over to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to consider criminal charges, he said.
“The loss of a child’s life will not be in vain,” Fried said.
A company spokesman said two employees were furloughed after Tire’s death and outside firms were brought in to improve safety, training and maintenance issues.
“We take these steps to ensure continued operations conform to applicable standards and recommendations,” said Trevor Arnold, attorney for Orlando Slingshot.
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A report from third-party engineers found that the in-game sensors had been manually adjusted to double the size of the opening for the two-seat restraints, resulting in the teen not being properly secured.
Tire’s family is suing the ride’s owner, manufacturer and lessor, alleging negligence and failure to provide a safe ride.