ORLANDO, Fla — A Missouri teenager died of blunt force trauma after falling from a 430-foot Florida drop-tower amusement park ride, according to an autopsy released Monday.
The report by the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office also ruled that 14-year-old Tyre Sampson's death in March was an accident. Sampson slipped out of his seat about halfway down the Free Fall ride located in a tourist area of Orlando.
The autopsy showed that Sampson, who played football in the St. Louis area, weighed 383 pounds when he died. Sampson was in Orlando with a friend's family for vacation and his size has been examined as a potential factor.
An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in Sampson not being properly secured.
Sampson’s parents have sued the ride’s owner, manufacturer and landlord, saying they were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride. The lawsuit said the defendants failed to warn Sampson about the risks of someone of his size going on the ride and that they did not provide an appropriate restraint system.
Trevor Arnold, an attorney for the ride’s owner, Orlando Slingshot, has said the company is cooperating with state investigators.
Here's the statement he released in response to the autopsy report's findings.
“The loss of Tyre Sampson was a tragic accident. We continue to communicate and cooperate with representatives of Tyre’s family, as well as the Department of Agriculture. We are devoted to working with our lawmakers in making lasting safety changes in the amusement park industry.”
The Orlando FreeFall ride opened in December 2021. According to a news release, the thrill ride stands at 430 feet, "making it the world's tallest free-standing drop tower."
The park says the ride holds 30 people. The ride rotates around the gigantic tower as it rises to the top. Once riders reach the top, the ride tilts forward 30 degrees and faces the ground for a "brief moment before free-falling nearly 400 feet at speeds reaching over 75 mph."
The ride will remain closed as authorities continue to investigate.
10 Tampa Bay contributed to this report.