Orange County

Orlando FreeFall operator disputes claims of wrongdoing in boy’s death

ORLANDO, Fla. — The owner and operator of the Orlando FreeFall tower which has closed since a 14-year-old boy fell from it and died in March, is disputing accusations of wrongdoing, as a civil case against the company moves forward.


In a court filing Friday, attorneys for Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot LLC denied that the ride operator tampered with sensors meant to ensure passengers were locked into their seats before the ride began.

They also disputed claims that Tyre Sampson was too big for the ride and didn’t fit into his seat, as well as accusations that the ride’s employees weren’t properly trained.

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

The attorneys filed their request for an administrative hearing as part of a request to have charges of wrongdoing dismissed. The attorneys did not provide explanations behind their disputes as part of the filing.

Read: ‘Meaningful change’: Orlando FreeFall ride to be taken down following Tyre Sampson’s death

The company has been under pressure ever since Sampson’s fall, which was captured on videos uploaded to social media. Photos of his harness visibly sticking out farther than other passengers provided early hints that something may not have been correct with his seat.

The pressure increased after investigators found the sensors had been altered to allow the harness above the seat to leave an opening twice as big as the manufacturer allowed, fitting passengers well above the ride’s weight limit.

Read: Tyre Sampson’s family: Removing FreeFall ride a small victory that could lead to laws changed

“The fact that they’re denying that he didn’t fit into the seat, we have a video from that night, we have photos from that night,” Kimberly Wald, the attorney for Sampson’s mother, said.

Wald said the case was moving slower than expected due to them suing the ride’s manufacturer, an international company.

However, she called the evidence a “slam dunk,” and said her mission was to teach everyone involved in Sampson’s death a lesson.

“She is waking up every single morning to make sure that no other parent goes through this,” Wald said.

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