Florida Seeks To Improve Theme Park Safety After Icon Park Tragedy

Image Credit: Icon Park

In March of last year, a 14-year-old boy was killed while riding Icon Park’s Free Fall ride in Orlando, Florida. The fallout of this tragedy has led to lawsuits and the state of Florida proposing new changes to strengthen safety regulations regarding permanent rides in theme parks.

Proposal SB 902 was filed this past week for consideration. It will require several changes to how theme parks do business, including certification reports that must be filed with the state before rides may open. The legislative session in which the bill will be considered will occur on March 7.

Here are a few of the points of the proposal:

  • Require that each permanent amusement ride operated for the first time in this state after July 1, 2023, have a ride commissioning and certification report on file with the department before the department conducts the permanent amusement ride’s first inspection and issues a permit for the permanent amusement ride.
  • A valid certificate of insurance for each amusement ride.
  • An annual affidavit of compliance and nondestructive testing certifying that the amusement ride was inspected in person by the affiant and that the amusement ride is in general conformance with the requirements of this section and all applicable department rules. The affidavit must have been executed by a professional engineer or a qualified inspector within the last calendar year.

In a report from Fox 35, Orlando Slingshot, LLC has agreed to pay a $250k fine to Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This comes after Slingshot appealed the fine in December 2022.

The state’s investigation found that ride operators had manually adjusted the FreeFall’s seat for Tyre Sampson to ride the 430′ drop attraction. It was later discovered that the victim was also 100 lbs. over the limit the FreeFall allowed.

Slingshot, LLC had attempted to appeal the $250,000 fine in December 2022, challenging specific allegations by the state of Florida, such as the company knowing about the manual seat adjustments and not providing training to ride operators.

The family of the victim (Tyre Sampson) asked that the Orlando FreeFall ride be dismantled, which the ride’s owner has agreed to. The ride opened in December 2021 and remained out of service as of June 2022. The Sampson family is also pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against FreeFall’s manufacturer.

[Source: Orlando Weekly]

[Source: Fox 35]

[Source: The Florida Senate]

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