'Manual adjustments' played role in fatal Orlando FreeFall incident: report

There are 'many other potential contributing factors' to the incident, an official said

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A forensic investigation determined that "manual adjustments" contributed to the March 24 incident in which Tyre Sampson, 14, died after falling off of the Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said during a Monday press briefing that Quest Engineering, which is a forensics company the state hired to investigate, determined that the operator of the Orlando FreeFall made manual adjustments to the ride's harness sensor that rendered it "unsafe."

Tyre Sampson

Tyre Sampson (FOX 35 Orlando)

"The report confirms that manual adjustments had been made to the sensor for the seat in question that allowed the harness' restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraints opening range," Fried said.

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"These misadjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate improperly satisfying the ride's electronic safety mechanisms, that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in the seat," she continued.

The Orlando Free Fall drop tower in ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, is pictured on March 28, 2022. Tyre Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride last week.

The Orlando Free Fall drop tower in ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, is pictured on March 28, 2022. Tyre Sampson, 14, was killed when he fell from the ride last week. (Orlando Sentinel via Getty)

Fried went on to say there are "many other potential contributing factors that may have played a role in the incident," and that the department's investigation remains ongoing.

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"Given these outstanding concerns, the drop tower will remain closed indefinitely," she added. "While the initial phase of our investigation is complete, we are far from done uncovering all of the facts and factors at play that are needed to inform of the next steps."

Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Fried did not take any questions at the briefing, which was also attended by Florida House of Representative member Geraldine Thompson, who represents parts of Orlando and has said rides should be required by law to display any height or weight restriction.

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An operating manual for the Orlando FreeFall states that the maximum passenger weight is just over 286 pounds. Sampson was six feet, five inches tall and reportedly weighed 360 pounds.

Fox News' Adam Sabes contributed to this report.