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Commissioner Nikki Fried wants more time before taking action on amusement park ride safety

'It is way too soon,' Fried says
Posted at 5:23 PM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 17:33:25-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's head of Agriculture and Consumer Services said more investigating is needed into the death of a teen at an Orlando amusement park before her office takes further action.

Commissioner Nikki Fried shared that with reporters Wednesday afternoon. It comes as authorities continue looking into the incident.

Last Thursday, Tyre Sampson fatally fell from the "Free Fall" ride at ICON Park. The 14-year-old was 6-foot-5 and more than 300 pounds — leading some to question if his size was a factor.

Tyre Sampson, died after falling from the FreeFall Drop Tower ride at Icon Park in Orlando in March 2022
Tyre Sampson died after falling from the FreeFall Drop Tower Ride at ICON Park in Orlando on March 24, 2022.

State Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando, has since called on Fried to use her department's rule-making powers to bolster safety at Florida's fixed amusement parks ASAP.

"As Mr. Sampson's family, friends, and all those who cared for him mourn, I am strongly urging the Department to take swift action for the critical safety of others," Bracy wrote in the Tuesday letter. "I urge the Department to: reexamine and implement minimum safety requirements for fixed amusement parks, implement secondary or additional safety restraints to quickly respond to mechanical and human errors, and require more robust peer training and safety protocols to increase accountability by amusement park operators."

In response, Fried said she was open to changes — but not immediately.

"It is way too soon," Fried said. "There are a lot of engineers having to go through — a lot of pulling back of layers. We're not going to jump to any conclusions until we know the facts."

Commissioner Nikki Fried, March 30, 2022
Commissioner Nikki Fried shares her thoughts on amusement park safety following the teen's death in Orlando.

The Democrat and candidate for Florida governor also gave her condolences to Sampson's family and vowed a transparent investigation.

"Obviously our hearts go out to them," she said. "No one should go to an amusement park and, unfortunately, leave without a member of their family."

The Free Fall ride remains closed at least until investigators conclude their work.

Sampson's family has threatened legal action against the ride’s owners.