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On Thursday, March 24, 2022, 14­-year-­old Tyre Sampson fell 430 feet from the ICON Park drop tower, ultimately leading to his death. This tragic event led to a grieving family, legislatures, senators, attorneys, and the people of greater Orlando fighting for a change. Tyre, who succumbed to his injuries, will never be forgotten. His loss of life has become the headliner push for changes long overdue.  A bill in his name has been moving through legislative channels in hopes that we can prevent another tragedy like this from ever happening again. It will also apply pressure and accountability to thrill ride owners and managers. This bill, called the Tyre Sampson Act, was unanimously passed along with the 904-senate bill.

Tourist attractions are a huge industry in Central Florida. From carnivals, tourist attractions, and especially the famous theme parks, there are plenty of opportunities to experience and enjoy these thrill rides, but at what cost? We automatically assume that we are in good hands when getting on ride, some don’t even think of it at all. Unfortunately, the truth is we don’t really know. There is not a lot of regulation and many of these attractions do their own investigations /self-regulations. So, who is monitoring to make sure everything is in line?  Very little regulation is made by the state, and when done, there mostly performed by understaffed, overworked agencies hired through the Florida Department of Agriculture. It is evident that the state needs more regulation. Evident its time for a change.

Orlando’s very own Senator Geraldine Thompson, who sponsors the bills, has imposed a significant amount of increased safety regulations, pop­up inspections regarding compliance to maintenance and manufacture standards, permit and application regulations, timely mannerism for reporting incidents, and a higher demand for employee training and staff on hand. The Tyre Sampson Act will ensure that there are multiple layers of safety when it comes to the security of the riders. This includes, but is not limited to, the requirement that any ride over 100 feet must have seatbelts in addition to any other restraint, such as harnesses. It is believed that an additional restraint, averaging $50.00, could have preserved the life of the 14­year­old. However, the economic interest created from tourism is and has been put above the safety of the very patrons who provide the financial benefit.  It’s a matter of profit over people, and when it is at play, usually we, the people, get the short end of the stick from these avaricious companies that produce these “thrill rides”.

Although this is a big step forward, some believe the 904-senate bill that was passed along with the Sampson Act, has been deemed controversial. It will allow thrill ride owners and parks to keep any active incidents, reports, or investigations away from the public eye until they are complete. Essentially, these preventative measures diminish the opportunity to decide for ourselves, if we are willing to take the risk to ride an attraction. How long would we have to wait for an investigation to be completed? How long till we find out what led to the death of our or any child? If this were your child, wouldn’t you want to know? Can we trust the thrill ride owners and engineers with the life of our children in their hands? Can safety truly be achieved? Questions, that we still have no answers to. When all is said and done, only time will tell.

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