Crane arrives to tear down Orlando FreeFall nearly 1 year after teen’s death on ride

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A state senate committee discussed a bill Monday that would create new standards for amusement ride operators.


It comes nearly a year after 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death from the Orlando Free Fall ride on International Drive.

Sampson’s family has been demanding action and feels this has been a longtime coming.

The teenager was in Orange County for spring break last year when employees put him in a seat that ultimately led to his death.

See: Process to take down Orlando FreeFall begins following death of 14-year-old boy

After back-and-forth in court from not only family lawyers but also the ride owner and the state, action is being taken at Icon Park.

Demands for the ride to be taken down came soon after Sampson’s death.

Even after the state found the ride company at fault for the death - the ride company, Slingshot, initially denied wrongdoing.

They later reached a settlement with the state to pay $250,000 and never operate the ride again.

Watch: ‘Tyre Sampson’ bills fix ride safety oversights but keeps records hidden longer

But it’s not a simple process.

We saw employees checking things out last Tuesday and planning how to take it down. On Monday a crane arrived that will begin to take the pieces apart.

At the same time, lawmakers will begin discussions on bill - dubbed the Tyre Sampson Act - to require surprise ride inspections, better documentation of ride modifications and new training procedures.

Watch: Orlando FreeFall ride owner reaches settlement with state after Tyre Sampson’s death

The act focuses on signage for riders showing height and weight requirements, and would also require an annual affidavit and third-party ride inspections as well as make sure that anytime major modifications are made, those changes are reported.

“In the instance of the FreeFall, t was inspected in December, and given a permit to operate in January. And between January and March, there were major modifications with regard to the sensors and the seats that did not comply with the manufacturer’s guidelines,” Sen. Geraldine Thompson - (D) Orlando said. “So this would establish a duty to report to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”

As part of the act, training for ride operators would also be expanded as well as additional maintenance requirements.

Read: State fines Orlando Free Fall operator $250K related to investigation into Tyre Sampson’s death

Thompson has also filed a seatbelt amendment to require seatbelts on any ride that goes up more than 100 feet.

Thompson said she has strong bipartisan support for the act and believes it should pass.

Sampson’s family supports the bill but recognizes no matter how much they do, nothing will bring back their son.

The company released a statement saying the dismantling will start this week.

See more in the video above.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

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