Lawmakers Scramble to Fix Loophole That May Have Caused a Teen’s Death

Lawmakers Scramble to Fix Loophole That May Have Caused a Teen's Death

( – A teenager’s night of fun at a Florida amusement park turned to horror on March 24, when he plummeted to his death. Tyree Sampson, 14, was in Orlando with family and friends for spring break when he died after falling from an amusement park ride. Lawmakers in the Sunshine State are rushing to fix loopholes that some believe allowed the accident to happen.

Florida State Rep. Geraldine Thompson (D), who represents parts of Orlando, believes amusement parks in her state should be required to display the height and weight limits of the rides. Sampson was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and reportedly weighed upwards of 360 pounds when he died. The FreeFall drop tower he was on at ICON Park had a weight restriction of 286 pounds, yet park employees allowed the youngster to get on the ride.

Thompson says there’s a “loophole” in the state law that doesn’t require the park to display the maximum weight outside of the ride. She explained the display rule “absolutely should be mandatory” so that theme park visitors know whether they can safely enjoy them.

The FreeFall ride reportedly had signage up outside of the attractions, but only listed the minimum weight and height, not the maximum, which is typical of other amusement park rides in the state, as well.

Thompson also believes the people operating the rides should be trained better. For example, the lawmaker thinks they should train for a minimum number of hours to ensure they’re fully capable of operating the machines.

Currently, Florida law allows manufacturers to decide whether or not to display the maximum limits for a ride. Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried says an investigation into the incident is underway and there could be a rule change if warranted.

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