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Did teen’s big size factor in Florida amusement ride death?

Leeda.the.Paladin

Well-Known Member
T. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A rising middle school football player in Missouri, only 14 but already 6 feet, 5 inches tall and well over 300 pounds, Tyre Sampson fell to his death from a towering Florida amusement ride. Lawyers for his family want to know if negligence about his size, or other factors, played a role.


“This young man, he was athletic and he was big. He had no way of knowing,” said Bob Hilliard, a Texasattorneywho represents Tyre’s mother, Nekia Dodd, in an interview Saturday. “This is going to be an issue of a lack of supervision and lack of training. A straight-up negligence case.”


Investigators on Saturday continued to examine what happened Thursday night when Sampson dropped out of his seat from a 430-foot, free-fall amusement park ride that is taller than the Statue of Liberty along a busy street in the heart of Orlando’s tourist district not far from Disney World.


The ride takes patrons up to that height, tilts so they face the ground for a moment or two, and then plummets toward the ground at speeds of 75 mph (about 121 kph) or more.


The well-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is working with Hilliard and represents Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, said the family is “shocked and heartbroken at the loss of their son.”


“This young man was the kind of son everyone hopes for — an honor roll student, an aspiring athlete, and a kind-hearted person who cared about others,” Crump said in a statement Saturday.


The Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates amusement rides in Florida at all but the major theme parks, declined comment Saturday other than to say the investigation is ongoing.


The Icon Park attraction said in a statement it is fully cooperating with investigators and that the Orlando FreeFall ride will be closed indefinitely. It opened late last year on International Drive, a major tourist mecca.


“We are heartbroken with the incident that took the life of one of our guests. We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to his family and friends,” said a statement from the SlingShot Group, which operates the ride.


Tyre was a giant for his age, already the size of an NFL offensive lineman. His family says he aspired to play pro football, like many kids with athletic ability who see a way to buy their mother a house and lift everyone in the family to a new level.


“That was his dream, and he was on his way,” Wendy Wooten, his stepmother, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He had so many scouts looking at him. He was going to be a great football player.”


Tyre was part of a group called the St. Louis Bad Boyz football club who were in Orlando for a weeklong training camp, the Post-Dispatch reported. The group had chaperones and, by all accounts, were doing what millions do every year during spring break in Orlando: enjoying the theme parks and rides.


He was a student at the City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis. The school sent a letter to parents Friday saying counseling would be available for students on Monday.


“Tyre has been a City Garden student for many years,” the school said in a statement from its principal and CEO. “We will miss him tremendously and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”


No criminal charges have been filed but a negligence or wrongful death lawsuit, or both, seem likely. Crump said boy’s parents “intend to get answers for Tyre’s grieving family.”


“A fun theme park visit with his football team should not have ended in tragedy,” Crump said.
 

Lylddlebit

Well-Known Member
I have been to amusement parks with guys who were too big, tall and/or muscular to ride the rides. They were smaller than this young boy. I am having a hard time understanding how this was allowed to happen to a child. It is not safe for a guy that size to ride the majority of thrill rides because the safety mechanisms will not function/engage for them. Many thrill rides have height and weight restrictions that are in place to prevent him from riding because the belts won't buckle and the harness won't latch into place. It is normal for a guy his size to be told he can't ride to prevent this type of tragedy. This is a video I won't be able to watch but I don't have a single doubt that there is negligence here.
 
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Black Ambrosia

Well-Known Member
When I heard about this I just knew it was gonna be a white kid. Color me surprised that football playing Tyre is the unfortunate soul that lost his life. Talk about a senseless death.
 

dancinstallion

Well-Known Member
The first thing I thought when I saw a pic of him was his size. I said he looks too big. The harness must have not strapped down on top of him. I know the Operators said he had to be buckled in, in order for the ride to operate, but what about the harness that goes on top of his shoulders? if that doesnt click will the ride still operate? This made me think of when dd barely made the height requirement for one ride. When she sat down she looked a little too short for the harness over her shoulders. I told her maybe this wasn't a good idea. She assured me it was OK and she took off her saddles and sat on them which boosted her up. So yes the height and weight requirements matter and even if a person fits.

I feel sad this boy lost his life. I do think he was too big and probably too tall for the ride.
 
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Kitamita

Well-Known Member
I saw a still pic of Tyre on the ride before it ascended. It was clear that it wasn't anchored on him properly when you compare how his looked compared to the other riders. Other ride operators at the park had rejected him due to his size, from what I understand.
Yes, the pic below shows he was nowhere near securely strapped in to ride and there are no additional straps around the hips. As you said he has turned away from other rides due to his size (6'5, 345 lb). Why the attendants didn't boot him from the ride makes no sense. Especially given the fact the ride tilts forward putting additional stress on the harness. Simple physics would conclude the harness would fail....



1648576383238.png
 

Theresamonet

Well-Known Member
Yes, the pic below shows he was nowhere near securely strapped in to ride and there are no additional straps around the hips. As you said he has turned away from other rides due to his size (6'5, 345 lb). Why the attendants didn't boot him from the ride makes no sense. Especially given the fact the ride tilts forward putting additional stress on the harness. Simple physics would conclude the harness would fail....



View attachment 479715

I don’t think this picture really proves anything. Because of his size compared to theirs, his harness was never going to come down as far. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t locked. These harnesses are made to accommodate varying sizes, up to a limit.


I went to Disney & Universal with my family a few years back. One of my uncles is really big. Taller and probably weighs more than Tyre. There were many rides he couldn’t get on with us. But even the ones he could, his harnesses didn’t come down as far as the rest of ours, but they were still locked.

To clarify: Im not saying his harness was locked. I’m saying you can’t tell by looking at a picture of his compared to smaller people.
 

fluffyforever

Well-Known Member
I’ve been on many coasters where the harness, that I heard and felt lock in place before the ride, released one notch during the ride and got a bit more slack. Not completely undone, but it was scary enough that I made mental notes of which to never get ride again.

His harness may have even been secure before the ride, but under pressure or movement the harness may have moved one notch up. As big as he was, there may not have been additional locks for the harness to secure to after releasing from a barely secured notch.
 

Theresamonet

Well-Known Member
I’ve been on many coasters where the harness, that I heard and felt lock in place before the ride, released one notch during the ride and got a bit more slack. Not completely undone, but it was scary enough that I made mental notes of which to never get ride again.

His harness may have even been secure before the ride, but under pressure or movement the harness may have moved one notch up. As big as he was, there may not have been additional locks for the harness to secure to after releasing from a barely secured notch.

Good point. I’ve experienced this also.
 

secretdiamond

Well-Known Member
I’ve been on many coasters where the harness, that I heard and felt lock in place before the ride, released one notch during the ride and got a bit more slack. Not completely undone, but it was scary enough that I made mental notes of which to never get ride again.

His harness may have even been secure before the ride, but under pressure or movement the harness may have moved one notch up. As big as he was, there may not have been additional locks for the harness to secure to after releasing from a barely secured notch.

What?! Really?! There goes my dream of reliving my childhood and ever getting back on one of those things!
 

naturalgyrl5199

Well-Known Member
I Saw the video and its horrible. I couldn't shake it for days. I was at that park in 2019 and that ride wasn't there. Only a spinning ride and a ferris wheel. The Spinning thing goes WAY TOO HIGH into the air. Like WAY WAY too high. But they are swings with bucket seats. That ride is brand new and was installed 3 months ago in December. While the harness was POSSIBLY locked, there is indeed SOME negligence this park will need to pay. For someone to be turned away from so many rides, only to pass away on one of the only rides he was allowed to go on says something about that employee(s) who is probably now fired.
 

Kitamita

Well-Known Member
I don’t think this picture really proves anything. Because of his size compared to theirs, his harness was never going to come down as far. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t locked. These harnesses are made to accommodate varying sizes, up to a limit.


I went to Disney & Universal with my family a few years back. One of my uncles is really big. Taller and probably weighs more than Tyre. There were many rides he couldn’t get on with us. But even the ones he could, his harnesses didn’t come down as far as the rest of ours, but they were still locked.

To clarify: Im not saying his harness was locked. I’m saying you can’t tell by looking at a picture of his compared to smaller people.
I believe the harness was locked but did not have enough of his frame-secured. Due to how the seat tilts forward toward the ground during the ride, once his hips left the seat there was no going back. Maybe if the seat stayed vertical it would be a different story.

I have been on a similar ride and you do get tossed around in those seats quite a bit. (Hated it - one and done for me) But on my ride, they did have a secondary strap that clipped the bottom of the harness to the seat.

It really comes down to the operator's/attendant's judgment and it was a tragically bad call that cost this young man his life.
 

cocosweet

Well-Known Member
I’ve been on many coasters where the harness, that I heard and felt lock in place before the ride, released one notch during the ride and got a bit more slack. Not completely undone, but it was scary enough that I made mental notes of which to never get ride again.

His harness may have even been secure before the ride, but under pressure or movement the harness may have moved one notch up. As big as he was, there may not have been additional locks for the harness to secure to after releasing from a barely secured notch.
o_OI'm already skittish about roller coasters in general. I literally have to size up whether I think I can deal with it before I even bother and now I see this post and this one:

Good point. I’ve experienced this also.
I may not ever ride one again.
 

fluffyforever

Well-Known Member
o_OI'm already skittish about roller coasters in general. I literally have to size up whether I think I can deal with it before I even bother and now I see this post and this one:


I may not ever ride one again.
I stopped doing most coasters and instead started only riding things like teacups and go-carts. Nothing that will go upside down, drop from a crazy height, or have me dangling where my life depends on some harness that cranks to lock in place. If the coaster needs more than a seatbelt, then it’s a no for me.
 

LivingInPeace

Well-Known Member
I stopped doing most coasters and instead started only riding things like teacups and go-carts. Nothing that will go upside down, drop from a crazy height, or have me dangling where my life depends on some harness that cranks to lock in place. If the coaster needs more than a seatbelt, then it’s a no for me.
I loved all the rides up until my thirties. The last time I got on a ride like the one the boy was on, I said “Lord, if you let me live through this I will never get on something that has me leaning over head first suspended in the air again.”
 

cocosweet

Well-Known Member
I stopped doing most coasters and instead started only riding things like teacups and go-carts. Nothing that will go upside down, drop from a crazy height, or have me dangling where my life depends on some harness that cranks to lock in place. If the coaster needs more than a seatbelt, then it’s a no for me.
I have this thing about sharp inclines and drops. :nono: Speed? Bring it. Loops and Turns? No problem. But if a hill is really steep at some angle that only belongs on a graph in geometry class, I ain't going.
 

Theresamonet

Well-Known Member
It really comes down to the operator's/attendant's judgment and it was a tragically bad call that cost this young man his life.

And 9 out of 10 times the operator is a teenager. This never sat right with me. Teens shouldn’t hold jobs that require making judgment calls that could be a matter of life and death. These rides are fun, but they aren’t for play-play. They should be operated by people who have the maturity to take what they’re doing seriously.
 

naturalgyrl5199

Well-Known Member
I believe the harness was locked but did not have enough of his frame-secured. Due to how the seat tilts forward toward the ground during the ride, once his hips left the seat there was no going back. Maybe if the seat stayed vertical it would be a different story.

I have been on a similar ride and you do get tossed around in those seats quite a bit. (Hated it - one and done for me) But on my ride, they did have a secondary strap that clipped the bottom of the harness to the seat.

It really comes down to the operator's/attendant's judgment and it was a tragically bad call that cost this young man his life.
Supposedly these didn't have it. I don't understand why. The one I was on in the past had one as well.
 

Kitamita

Well-Known Member
And 9 out of 10 times the operator is a teenager. This never sat right with me. Teens shouldn’t hold jobs that require making judgment calls that could be a matter of life and death. These rides are fun, but they aren’t for play-play. They should be operated by people who have the maturity to take what they’re doing seriously.
Exactly! Unfortunately, most are teenagers/college students who don't make the best judgment calls. I am sure they just wanted to end their shift and go home.

I remember going to an amusement park and the attendant (early 20's male) saying he had been fired a few weeks before because someone got hurt on a ride he operated but he had a family member who worked in management so he got rehired but put on a less dangerous ride... :oops:
 

Theresamonet

Well-Known Member
Exactly! Unfortunately, most are teenagers/college students who don't make the best judgment calls. I am sure they just wanted to end their shift and go home.

I remember going to an amusement park and the attendant (early 20's male) saying he had been fired a few weeks before because someone got hurt on a ride he operated but he had a family member who worked in management so he got rehired but put on a less dangerous ride... :oops:

And the fact that he was even telling you that, like it’s not alarming, clearly shows his poor judgment. SMH
 

Kitamita

Well-Known Member

Highlights from the article:

"Safety sensors on two seats on the FreeFall ride at Orlando’s ICON Park had been “manually adjusted,” allowing Tyre Sampson, 14, of St. Louis, Missouri, to slip from his harness and fall to his death on March 24, Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried said.

“Seat 1′s harness proximity sensor was manually loosened, adjusted, and tightened to allow a restraint opening of near 7 inches,” which is about 4 inches more than the normal opening range, according to a forensic engineering report prepared by Quest Engineering & Failure Analysis.

The ride’s maximum rider weight is around 285 pounds. Sampson weighed over 300 pounds, his family told CNN."

Such an avoidable tragedy.
 
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