After handling many cases involving tragedies in the tourism and theme park industry, this most recent incident raises questions about industry safety and lack of regulation.
On Thursday, March 24, 2022, a 14-year-old boy fell 430-feet from the Icon Park Drop Tower in Orlando, Florida. The boy suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital where he passed away from those injuries.
An investigation is being performed by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. They are trying to determine what caused the fall.
The Icon Park Drop Tower is a popular tourist attraction that opened in December of 2021. It is a round tower that can hold up to 30 riders at a time. The attraction is said to set a record for the tallest drop tower attraction in the world. The ride takes the occupants up to 430-feet and spins, providing views of the Orlando area. On clear days, you can see the coast. You can see Disney’s Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary Resort. After a spin for the view, the ride then drops 430-feet. It races at a rate of about 75 miles per hour.
Witnesses to this incident saw what looked like a piece of material fall from the ride. Then, when they saw what was on the ground, they realized it was a person. That person was the 14-year-old victim who ultimately succumbed to his injuries.
Tourist attractions are a huge industry in Central Florida. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of regulation. Carnivals, tourist attractions, and especially the famous theme parks generally do their own investigations and their own self-regulating. Very little regulation is done by the state. Any regulation that is done is performed by archaic means by understaffed state agencies through the Florida Department of Agriculture.
Over the thousands of tourist industry cases we have handled, it is evident that the state needs more regulation. It appears the industry, and the government, put the economic interests created from tourism above the safety of the very patrons who provide the financial benefit. This needs to change.
It’s unfortunate that things did not change sooner as it may have prevented this boy’s death. There are several videos online of the Icon Park Tower Drop. However, it’s noted in some that while there is a shoulder harness, there may be no seat belt. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hP5hLZlEUB0. This could be one of the problems that lead to the death of this young man. More information is becoming available as the investigations continue. But, it is easy to see how a person could slip out if the securing restraints were not sufficient. And, this is not the first time Icon Park has had similar safety problems. Twice in 2020 we posted about other injuries and deaths at this tourist attraction area. https://orlando.legalexaminer.com/legal/worker-falls-to-his-death-from-icon-parks-starflyer-attraction/
Incidents of severe injuries and deaths at traveling carnivals, tourist attractions, fun parks, and the most famous theme parks in the world show that it is time for the state of Florida and even Congress enact legislation and impose significant regulations to improve the safety of these attractions for the children and families drawn to them. These companies make a significant profit, at the price of safety to members of the unsuspecting public who are just looking for a thrill, shot of adrenaline, or good time. We have handled many, many cases like this and each time it is due to a lack of oversight, lack of training, recklessness and just plain negligence. It needs to end so no more families need to suffer. If you cannot run these operations safely, you must stop running them all together. Either don’t offer them at all, or let someone responsible run them. Given the profit margins in this industry, the safety problems are unfortunately going to continue unless there is a change.
Our thoughts and prayers go out this family whose 14 year old son was taken from them. And, as well, to the many other victims of tourist attraction and theme park tragedies. Things need to change in this industry or these failures will continue to occur.
Michael J. Damaso, II
Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A.
236 South Lucerne Circle at Delaney
Orlando, Florida 32801
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.