Geri Thompson Will Push ‘Tyre Sampson Law’ for FDACS to Have More Inspections for Amusement Rides in Florida

State Sen. Geri Thompson, D-Orlando, announced last week that she will file a bill to offer more oversight and inspections of amusement rides in the Sunshine State.

Thompson and outgoing state Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried focused on the death of Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old who died in an accident at the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park in March. Reports emerged that Sampson weighed almost 100 pounds over the ride’s 287lb weight limit.

Fried noted that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) filed an “administrative complaint against Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, LLC, in relation to the tragic death of Tyre Sampson earlier this year.”

“Today my department issued an administrative complaint alleging multiple violations of Florida law related to these (the FDACS investigation) findings,” said Fried. “We are seeking an administrative fine exceeding $250,000—one of the largest administrative fines the department has ever sought— and a permanent revocation of the ride’s operating permit in the state of Florida.”

“When the millions of people who visit Florida come to this state, we want them to know that there is oversight, that there is accountability, that there are inspections, that there are requirements for training— all the things that Commissioner Fried just talked about,” said Thompson. “And so, the very first bill I’m going to file as a member of the Florida Senate will be the Tyre Sampson Law.”

The FDACS shared the following information on its role with amusement rides:

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has statewide responsibility to inspect all amusement rides in Florida, except for those at large parks that have more than 1,000 employees and have full-time inspectors on staff.

Amusement rides regulated in the state of Florida fall into two major groups: temporary amusement rides (those that are regularly relocated with or without assembly) and permanent facility amusement rides (those that are not regularly relocated and operate as a lasting part of the premises).

All temporary amusement rides are inspected and permitted each time they are moved or set up at a new location. Permanent rides are permitted annually and are inspected prior to permitting, as well as midway through the permit year. All amusement rides permitted annually by FDACS are required to have on file with us:

A certificate of insurance and
An annual affidavit of compliance and nondestructive testing performed by a professional engineer or qualified inspector.
When an FDACS inspector comes to the event or permanent park, they will:

Verify and validate the insurance coverage as well as Fair Rides Affidavit of Compliance and Nondestructive Testing.
Require the owner/operator to have a certified individual present during the inspection.
Inspect the ride for compliance with state standards. (Note: The ride must be run tested and ready for patron use prior to the inspection being conducted.)
Collect the required fees.
Issue the required permit.

The owner/operator is responsible for inspecting the amusement ride prior to opening each day of operation. The owner/operator is also responsible for training and recording training for each employee authorized to operate, assemble, disassemble, transport or conduct maintenance on the ride.

FDACS also investigates accidents involving amusement rides and has the authority to impose sanctions on amusement ride owners for violation of the law and can close and impound amusement rides that pose an immediate serious danger to public health, safety, and welfare.

Kevin Derby
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