Boy Dies Falling From Amusement Ride in Orlando
ICON Park in Orlando is, well, an icon. Locals and tourists alike flock to this area off International Drive year around for the variety of rides, shops, and restaurants. For a 14-year-old boy from St. Louis, the amusement ride that was supposed to be a fun time with his family would end in absolute tragedy. According to witnesses, the boy fell to his death after failing to be properly secured into the ride.
We’ll take a closer look at what led up to this horrific event and who’s responsible when someone is hurt or killed at an amusement park.
Released 911 Calls Show Chilling Aftermath
News reports are pouring in with absolutely chilling recordings of the many 911 calls placed after the 14 year old fell to his death on the FreeFall ride. The ride has patrons slip into a shoulder harness like a roller coaster that is pulled down from above and clicks in place. Once everyone is secure, the ride goes high up into the air and then progresses through a series of heartstopping drops as it makes its way back down again.
On the night of the accident, witnesses describe that the amusepark ride was falling downward when the boy somehow slipped free from his seat and fell. According to reports, a loud impact could be heard as the boy’s body struck the ground. Even though he was rushed quickly to a nearby hospital, he would not survive the fall.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Agriculture Investigating
The Orange County Sheriff’s office released a statement saying they are actively investigating exactly what happened in this event. The Florida Department of Agriculture is also investigating as they are the governing body responsible for ride safety inspections in the state. According to reports, the ICON Park ride passed its required safety inspection just a few months ago in December. ICON Park released its own statement saying they were deeply saddened at the tragedy and were fully cooperating with authorities to help get to the bottom of what led up to this young man falling from the ride.
Rides Are Supposed to Have Fail Safes
Amusepark rides are supposed to have multiple layers of safety features to prevent a tragedy like this one from occurring. Not only are rides inspected and certified by the Florida Department of Agriculture, but ride’s operators are supposed to be trained in how to keep patrons safe. On the FreeFall ride in ICON Park there are even green safety lights above each seat that are illuminated when the passenger is properly strapped in.
Initial reports cite workers discussing among themselves after the accident that they were sure that the boy was secured and that the green safety light above his seat was indeed lit prior to launching the ride into the air. Questions of the safety of the ride’s design have been raised since there was only the shoulder restraint in place rather than having an additional seat belt around the waist. Also if the boy wasn’t secure, why would the ride not have a safety mechanism to keep it from starting up? These questions and possible oversights may be what allowed the boy’s body to slip through the safety harness while the ride was rapidly descending.
Because of the uncertainty around the ride’s safety, Dollywood theme park in Tennessee has reportedly also decided to close its own version of the FreeFall ride that was designed by the same company as the one in use at ICON Park in Orlando.
Not the First Death at ICON Park
Sadly, this is not the first reported death of someone at ICON Park in Orlando. Just a few years ago, a maintenance worker was killed at a similar “tower drop” ride and many others have been injured across the area. Orlando’s theme parks have indeed seen many accidents and injuries over the years. In 2020, we covered a terrifying event at Universal Studios’ water park where a man was paralyzed and nearly drowned on a ride that has caused hundreds of injuries over the years.
Disney, Universal, and other world-famous Orlando amusement parks have seen many deaths and many more injuries over the years. Because Orlando sees such a huge influx of visitors each year, there are simply more chances for accidents to occur. Whether it was the theme park operating a ride they knew was dangerous, a ride’s designer overlooking a safety feature, or operator error, when someone is injured because of negligence, there are laws on the books that can help bring closure and relief to an injured party and their family.
What to Do if You’re Hurt at an Amusement Park
With the tragedy at ICON Park, the very real struggle for this young man’s family is just beginning. The pain of a parent burying their child is one for which there will never be adequate words to describe. When someone is hurt or worse killed because safety was overlooked, the law says the victim and their family have the right to seek compensation for their loss. We’ll help you fight for those rights, including going to court if that’s what’s necessary to get everything you deserve.
If you’ve been hurt at an amusepark park, carnival, fair, or other event with rides, you can talk to an attorney for free right now. Our accident attorneys in Orlando and other locations can talk about the details of your case and let you know what options are available all free of charge and without any obligation due on your part.