Florida order calls Orlando FreeFall ride ‘immediate danger to public health’

Ride safety expert: Orlando FreeFall operators completed raining in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. – Inspectors were back at the Orlando FreeFall thrill ride at Icon Park on Monday, testing it yet again and sending the ride carriage into the air, even while leaving the seats on the ground and raising only the top half of the carriage.

On Friday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said her department hired a forensic engineering and analysis firm to assist with the department’s investigation to get to the bottom of exactly how 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death from the ride a week and a half ago.

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News4JAX’s sister station WKMG reported that inspectors brought special equipment, including what appeared to be a 3-D camera that rotates and captures every angle of a scene. They also carried basic equipment including a ruler.

Trevor Arnold, GrayRobinson attorney on behalf of Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, LLC., the ride’s owner, said he was expecting state inspectors to return Monday.

“Orlando Eagle Drop continues to cooperate at every level with all state agencies and departments conducting their respective investigations,” Arnold said. “Friday’s pledge by Florida lawmakers to effectuate change in our industry is welcome. We are committed to working with those in charge to make a difference, as the safety of the public remains Orlando Eagle Drop’s top priority. On Monday, April 4, we will have staff from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on site. We will continue to provide additional information, as it is appropriate, given our respect for the ongoing investigations.”

On Monday, Fried’s office released pages of state statute and the permitting and inspection requirements for rides in Florida. The list includes testing, signage, and training -- all of which the investigation is expected to scrutinize.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also released the official “stop operation order” which became effective March 25, the day after Tyre Sampson fell to his death.

The stop order said the FreeFall ride is “considered an immediate serious danger to public health, safety, and welfare and may not be operated for patron use until it has passed a subsequent inspection.”

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.