ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — Rashon Young once wanted to ride the Orlando FreeFall ride at Icon Park.
That changed after the death of 14-year old Tyre Sampson in March.
“We don’t want them here anymore,” Young, Orlando resident, said.
He does not want to see anyone ride it again.
“This community is adamant about keeping them accountable for what has happened here at Icon Park and the tragedy that occurred,” Young said.
He brought his concerns to Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried Wednesday.
“I think it’s important that we not erase the history of this young man,” Young said to Fried.
Commissioner Fried, along with Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orange County, held a roundtable discussion with a few concerned community members about the future of Icon Park and Orlando Slingshot’s two rides, the Orlando FreeFall and Slingshot.
“The best way to send a very clear message that you can’t be negligent and people can’t die on your ride is to shut them down so they can’t make any more money,” said LaVon Bracy Davis, who is running for a seat in the Florida House.
Sampson, a star linebacker and 4.0 GPA student from Missouri, fell to his death during the descent of the Orlando FreeFall attraction in March.
The ride has been closed since, pending a state investigation.
“The safety of our patrons always comes first,” wrote an attorney for Orlando Slingshot in a statement.
The company hopes to reopen the adjacent Slingshot attraction, once it receives necessary approval from the state.
“They’ve got to come and ask for permission first,” Fried said.
Fried said the initial phase of her office’s investigation is complete but full analysis of the ride continues.
The investigation found harness sensors on two seats were manually loosened to accommodate larger riders.
Sampson exceeded the ride’s weight limit and was in one of those seats, according to the state.
“They should have come back to us and said, ‘we made these changes, will you come back out and inspect?’ They failed to do that too, so we would have potential ramifications on them, on that point,” said Fried.
Fried said she is learning more each day about the limitations of her powers when it comes to ride safety and authority.
“Our authorization of, in the grand scheme of things, is not as large as I would like it to be,” she said. “As the regulator, we are only there to make sure they follow the protocols from the actual manufacturer.”
Any decisions on whether the rides will be closed permanently will be made later.
“Without any causation to show that there was absolute negligence with how they operated the ride, we can’t just do a blanket unless we find that there were actual problems with the operator,” she said.
State Sen. Randolph Bracy would like to see the state be more involved in approving ride safety protocols.
He also said something must be done about the Slingshot group.
“I have been in constant communication with the commissioner to shut down this company and make sure that not only the FreeFall ride doesn’t open but no other ride that they have opens,” Bracy said.
Tyre Sampson’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Slingshot and other entities involved in the ride.
His father, Yarnell Sampson, was at the site this week for Father’s Day.
He wrote his son’s name on a fence around the ride and the words “death trap.”
“It’s up to us to make the change.” he said. “We need 25,000 signatures to be signed for this ride to come down permanently. That’s the goal.”