Missouri Teen Dies in Orlando Amusement Park Accident

In a tragic incident that serves as a reminder of just how dangerous that amusement park rides can be if the proper safety measures have not been implemented, are not being strictly followed, or were never designed in the first place for a ride, a teenager visiting Orlando with his friend’s family fell to his death from what billed itself as the world’s largest drop tower. The teen, who was 6’5” and 340 lbs, plunged to his death from the FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando

The company that operates the FreeFall said it had previously had no safety issues with the ride. Nevertheless, this was not even the first death at this park, as a maintenance technician who was not properly hooked up to a safety device plunged 225 feet to his death at a neighboring ride at the same park, the 450-foot-tall StarFlyer swing ride, in September 2020. 

The Ride and Its Inspection History

At 430 feet tall, the FreeFall ride has been advertised by its operator as the world’s largest free-standing drop tower. It holds 30 passengers and, as it initially rises in the air, it rotates around a tower and then tilts to face the ground before free-falling towards the ground at more than 75 mph. The safety restraint system consists of a harness that is pulled over riders’ shoulders and locked in place and was then checked for the proper fit by two ride staff members, but the ride had no seat belts to secure riders to the ride. Several riders could be heard questioning the lack of any seat belts in a video taken by a rider earlier the same day that was posted to social media after the incident occurred. Staff members on the video said there simply were no seat belts. Some amusement park safety experts have also questioned whether the teenager that was killed should have been allowed on the ride in the first place given his size, which could have affected his ability to ride the FreeFall safely.   

The FreeFall ride had received its initial inspection on December 20, 2021, by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates amusement parks and rides in Florida, and had received a permit to begin operating the ride at the same time. Its next regular inspection was not scheduled for several months after this incident, but investigators from the state agency were out at ICON Park the next day after this incident inspecting the ride, but would not answer questions from the press as to the purpose of their inspection, what they found, or whether the ride, which was closed down after the incident, would re-open.

Adventure and Amusement Park Safety In Florida

Florida contains a large number of amusement parks and other entertainment venues, from Disney World or Universal Studios in Orlando to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Florida is a tourist destination for families and their children for the state’s many family-friendly attractions. However, not all amusement or adventure parks are created equally, particularly when it comes to safety. Many ride operators may either have a checkered safety history or have given little to no training whatsoever to their staff as to how to safely restrain riders on amusement park rides. Other rides may simply not have proper restraint systems in place. The state may also have a role to play in all this, as the inspection process for new rides or even those already operating can often be spotty or non-existent in many cases only until after an incident like the recent FreeFall tragedy takes place. Parents need to be particularly careful given that children are uniquely vulnerable to negligence by amusement and adventure park staff who may be inadequately trained or not even care enough to ensure children are safe while using rides or that a ride is even safe for children to ride in the first place.   

Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley if You or A Loved One Have Been Injured in a Florida Amusement or Adventure Park Accident

At Schwed Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of legal experience representing those injured in a wide variety of scenarios, including in Florida amusement or adventure park accidents like the recent tragedy at ICON Park in Orlando. Although amusement and adventure parks and rides can be fun and exciting, amusement and adventure park accidents can and do occur with regularity given the checkered safety records or lack of proper safety precautions at many of these parks. If you or one of your loved ones have been the victim of a Florida amusement or adventure park accident, you may be entitled to substantial damages. Therefore if you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida amusement or adventure park accident, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today at contact@schwedlaw.com or (877) 694-6079 today.