ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — More details were released Monday regarding the investigation into the death of Tyre Sampson, a St. Louis County 14-year-old who was thrown to his death from an amusement park ride in Florida last month. 

Nikki Fried, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, released a 14-page report detailing initial findings.  

“This report confirmed our department’s findings that the operator of the Orlando drop tower made manual adjustments to the ride, resulting in it being unsafe,” Fried said.

Those adjustments included making more harness space in the seat where Sampson sat, even though his weight exceeded the ride’s guidelines.  A proximity switch that should have kept the ride from operating with that additional harness space was also manipulated, according to one of the attorneys representing Sampson’s mother.  

“This was such a preventable tragedy,” said Kimberly Wald, with the Haggard Law Firm. “These never should have been manipulated.” 

She said a lawsuit has been drafted, but with more information continuously emerging, it’s not yet clear when it will be filed.   

Wald attended a memorial service for Sampson and was moved to tears over his loss.   

“He was a brilliant student,” she said. “He was loved and cherished by so many people and the fact that this happened to him, I mean it’s such a tragedy, and hopefully, we will be able to find the answers to make sure that we can make a positive change in amusement park safety in the future.” 

Wald said it’s too soon to know where there is fault for Sampson’s death but added it will likely involve several different parties.   

“The investigation is just too soon to determine really who is primarily at fault,” she said.

Trever Arnold, an attorney for the ride’s operator, Orlando Slingshot, released this statement:
Orlando Slingshot has fully cooperated with the State during the initial phase of its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded.  All protocols, procedures, and safety measures provided to us by the manufacturer of the ride were followed.  Today’s report suggests a full review of the ride’s design, safety, operation, restraint mechanisms, and history – which of course we welcome.   We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry, as the safety of our patrons is always our top priority.

A statement from the amusement park, ICON Park was also released Monday: 

We are deeply troubled that the preliminary findings of the State’s investigation indicate a sensor on the Orlando FreeFall attraction, which is owned and operated by the SlingShot Group, had been mis-adjusted after the sensor was originally secured in place.  ICON Park is committed to providing a safe, fun experience for families.  We will continue to support the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services with their ongoing investigation.