ORLANDO, Fla. — Rides like the Orlando FreeFall — where a teenager tragically fell to his death — are subjected to inspections by the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The department is responsible for inspecting all amusement park rides in Florida, except for those at large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and full-time employees.
The attractions are required to have a certificate of insurance, and an annual affidavit of compliance, as well as testing performed by a professional engineer or qualified inspector.
The company behind the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park said the attraction is the tallest free-standing drop tower in the world at 430 feet. It can hold 30 riders at once.
When riders reach the top of the tower, riders are tilted forward 30 degrees toward the ground before falling nearly 400 feet at speeds reaching 75 mph.
The free fall thrill ride had only been in operation for a few months before the tragedy. The state was required to inspect it before opening. It passed its inspection in December 2021, when the ride opened.
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On Friday, the day after 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death, crews were inspecting the ride again and testing the seats. Workers were walking from chair to chair, checking the shoulder restraints.
State law requires daily inspections, which ride spokesman John Stine said the company was doing.
“We work with the Florida Department of Agriculture. They do their inspections; we do daily inspections on our rides before we open,” Stine said.
Ride representatives must fill out a testing form prior to opening. There are also training requirements for staff, as well as daily inspection reports.
The manufacturer of Orlando FreeFall is an Austrian company called Fun Time, which has a series of U.S. and international patents for the ride.
A series of inspections across several levels of government will look into whether Sampson’s harness failed or if it was never secured properly in the first place.
Most of the minimum requirements for amusement park rides are set by the ASTM International.
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