Amusement Park Rides And Child Safety

In late March 2022, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell from the FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, authorities said. The FreeFall takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph. Tyre came out of his seat when the magnets engaged to slow the ride during the descent ,according to a report based on ride employee witnesses.

The report filed by the operator with the fair rides division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, stated, "Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped."

There have also been questions whether Tyre may have been too large to be allowed on the ride. Tyre's father raised that question, saying, "My son was 6'5", 340. So, he's a big guy."

According to the ride's operations and maintenance manual, which has been posted online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the maximum passenger weight is 130 kilograms (approximately 287 pounds).

The manual states, "Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so – Do not let this person ride." Jamiel Lynch, Leyla Santiago, and Sara Weisfeldt "Accident report in teen's Florida park ride death says seat was locked" https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/29/us/florida-park-teen-death-accident-report/index.html (Apr. 01, 2022).

 

Commentary

The National Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 270 million people visit amusement parks each year, and that 7,000 people out of that total go to emergency rooms for injuries they receive on amusement park rides.

The main reason for deaths and injuries on amusement park rides is preventable error. This includes lack of routine maintenance and the disregard of safety rules by both ride operators and riders.

Every ride has a set of safety rules. They usually require that riders meet certain criteria relating to age, height, and weight. Many rides come with warnings for riders not to go on the ride if they have certain medical conditions.

To make sure that riders, especially children, are not endangered on an amusement ride, operators must be properly trained on all safety requirements for the ride. They should do this periodically – every week or every month. This will ensure that operators, especially new ones are always updated with current safety guidelines. All rides should also be checked and maintained regularly to make sure that all parts and machine parts are running smoothly.

The young man in the source article weighed more than 300 lbs. which was more than the required maximum weight limit for the ride. It was not clear if the ride operators were not aware of the weight limit or if they underestimated Tyre’s weight.

Here is a link to additional information regarding park safety:

·      The Global Association for the Attractions Industry

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