ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida House unanimously passed the Tyre Sampson Act on Wednesday. The bill was named after the teen who fell to his death from the Orlando FreeFall attraction over a year ago.
Tyre Sampson, 14, was riding the thrill ride, known as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, on March 24, 2022, when he slipped from his seat as the ride was plummeting down. The ride, which took guests up into the air before dropping over 400 feet at 70 mph, has since been dismantled.
The Tyre Sampson Act, which was introduced in February 2023 by State Sen. Geraldine Thompson, calls for changes to amusement rides across the state in an effort to promote safety and prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.
The legislation includes requirements for a seat belt and harness for any ride that goes over 100 feet and for all rides to be regularly commissioned, certified and tested by a separate regulatory agency.
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In addition, amusement ride operators would have a certain timeframe to report if there was an accident and the state could reserve the right to impound it if necessary.
This comes nearly two months after a Florida Senate committee approved the attractions safety bill.
Sampson’s mom, who was represented by Bob Hilliard in the original lawsuit, released a statement Wednesday thanking lawmakers for passing the bill.
“My number one goal as Tyre’s mother is to make sure this horrific tragedy never repeats itself. I do not want any mother to go through what I have endured over the past year. I want to thank the Florida legislature, Senator Thompson and Representative Bracy for passing the Tyre Sampson Act. I urge Florida’s Governor to sign this bill which will make all amusement rides safer for children.”
Nekia Dodd, Tyre Sampson’s mother
The family previously reached a settlement in March with both ICON Park and the company that operates the ride, however, there are nearly another dozen defendants in the lawsuit, including the manufacturer and installers.
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