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Draft legislation is proposed to bolster safety on amusement rides in Florida

An amusement park ticket booth sits in front of carnival rides.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates amusement rides like the one where a 14-year-old was killed in March.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday released a legislative “framework” that she said would improve safety for amusement rides, after a Missouri teen died in a fall out of a tower-style ride in Orlando.

Tyre Sampson, 14, fell from a 430-foot tower-drop ride on March 24 at Orlando’s ICON Park. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates such amusement rides.

“When accidents occur, often it’s because many small issues happen at the same time to create a perfect storm. Our goal here was to identify the issues that caused that perfect storm in Tyre’s case and work to prevent them from occurring again,” Fried said in a statement.

Among Fried’s proposed legislative changes are more-stringent reporting requirements for documenting ride maintenance and creating a minimum standard within the agriculture department for training ride operators. Fried also is proposing to add a requirement to prevent devices such as safety sensors from being adjusted.

A report released by the department in April said the Missouri teen’s death came after manual adjustments were made to sensors on two of the ride’s seats. The modification was made to allow the seats’ safety harnesses to remain open wider than the manufacturer intended, an investigation revealed. A probe is ongoing.

“I think it’s important that we address this matter legislatively as soon as possible. It’s a horrible tragedy. I also think we should name this bill in honor of Tyre Sampson, to honor his memory, but also so we have a reminder that this should never happen again,” Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Ocoee, said in a statement Wednesday.