Orange County

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

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — State investigators announced Tuesday that they will fine the operator of the Orlando Free Fall $250,000 related to the investigation into Tyre Sampson’s death in March.

Sampson, 14, slipped from his seat on the Orlando Free Fall and fell hundreds of feet to his death. An autopsy listed Sampson’s weight as 383 pounds. The ride manual states the maximum weight for a rider as 286 pounds.


Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Sampson fell to his death because of changes made to the ride by its operator. Fried said two seats, including the one Sampson rode on, had been manually adjusted to fit a larger rider.

“Today my department issued an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida law related to these findings,” Fried said. “We are seeking an administrative fine exceeding $250,000 — one of the largest administrative fines the department has ever sought — and a permanent revocation of the ride’s operating permit in the state of Florida.”

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

Fried said the fine will be levied against Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, LLC.

Fried said the results of her department’s investigation will forwarded on to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to determine if criminal charges will be called for in the case.

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

On Tuesday, State Senator Geraldine Thompson also announced legislation that she wants to see passed called the Tyre Sampson Law. It includes nine proposals that tighten regulations around ride modifications and would create a safety monitor position to make sure operators are trained, and proper procedures are being followed.

“He fell out of this ride because things were adjusted that were contrary to the direction of the manufacturer so the Tyre Sampson Law is going to address all of those things,” Thompson said.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

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.

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