Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, the company operating the drop tower at ICON Park where 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was killed, settled with the Florida Department of Agriculture by agreeing to close down the ride and pay a $250,000 fine, according to documents released Friday evening.
The settlement, signed Feb. 6, forbids the company from operating the Orlando FreeFall again and orders it to “not apply or re-apply for a permit to do so at any time in the future.” The fine was due Tuesday.
Under Commissioner Nikki Fried, the department sought the quarter-million dollar fine in connection to Tyre’s death nearly a year ago. An investigation into his death alleged the company was aware safety sensors on two harnesses were modified to open wider than normal range, allowing “larger guests” to go on the ride.
The report also accused Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot of improper employee training and deficient recordkeeping on the ride’s maintenance, among other allegations denied by the company.
With the settlement finalized, company officials are now working to dismantle the ride.
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“We are pleased to have resolved this matter with FDACS without the necessity of a formal hearing,” Trevor Arnold, an attorney representing the company, said in a statement to Orlando Sentinel news partner Spectrum News 13. “As we publicly stated since October, we have been preparing for taking down the FreeFall ride once FDACS concluded its investigation. The final agreement we reached with FDACS allows us to proceed coordinating a timeline with all involved parties to take down the ride, which we expect will take several weeks.”
A lawsuit filed by Tyre’s parents accusing Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot of negligence is ongoing.
On Thursday, Florida Sen. Geraldine Thompson filed a bill seeking to tighten ride safety regulations governing the state’s amusement parks. Called the “Tyre Sampson Act,” it establishes minimum training standards for ride attendants, allows state authorities to conduct unannounced ride inspections and would require additional inspections when a ride undergoes a “major modification.”
The bill further prohibits safety restraint systems from being adjusted “beyond the prescribed tolerances determined by the manufacturer or by a licensed professional engineer if the manufacturer is no longer in business.”
“The proposed changes made by this act are necessary to address the safety problems discovered during the department’s investigation” into Tyre’s death, according to the bill’s text.
If passed in this year’s legislative session, the bill would go into effect July 1.