‘We want to make sure we get to the bottom and get to the answers’: Attraction ride probe continues

ORLANDO, Fla. — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Wednesday the state does not have a timeline for completing an investigation into the death of Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old from Missouri who fell from a ride at an Orlando tourist attraction on March 24.

“We want to make sure we get to the bottom and get to the answers,” Fried said while appearing with state Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, along International Drive in Orlando. “And if it takes longer, because we’re doing a deep dive, then it’s going to take longer. But we are not going to rush this.”

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Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees amusement rides, issued a report in April that suggested manual adjustments were made to sensors on two of the tower-drop ride’s seats before the accident.

The 430-foot tower-drop ride remains closed indefinitely at ICON Park. The Slingshot Group, the ride owner, said Monday it would like to reopen a nearby “slingshot” ride.

Fried said the state had not received a formal request to reopen the slingshot ride.

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And, “as the regulator, we are only there to make sure that they follow the protocols from the actual manufacturer,” Fried said, adding, the “big problem with this operator is that without any causation to show that there was absolute negligence with how they operated the ride, we can’t just do a blanket (closure).”

Bracy, who is opposed to reopening all Slingshot Group rides, said lawmakers need to consider increasing safety measures for amusement rides.

“We are the tourist destination of the world. And we cannot put our tourism in jeopardy because of one group who, you know, is negligent,” said Bracy, who is running for Congress this year. “Our revenue depends on it. And so, we have to be more forceful in how we deal with them.”

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