TAMPA, Fla. — Busch Gardens Tampa Bay says it double-checked its drop tower ride following the death of a 14-year-old on a similar ride at ICON Park in Orlando.

The theme park said although its Falcon’s Fury attraction offers “a different experience and safety system,” it was checked Friday “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, Friday morning our maintenance and operations teams repeated our daily safety inspections prior to opening the ride,” Busch Gardens said in a statement to Spectrum News.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and all those affected by the tragedy,” the park added.

Falcon’s Fury is described as a 335-foot free-standing drop tower that drops riders face first at 60 mph. The Orlando Free Fall at ICON Park stands at 430 feet and drops riders at speeds of 75 mph. 

Tyre Sampson, who was visiting from Missouri, fell from the Free Fall late Thursday. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.

The ride’s operations and maintenance manual, which was released by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services this week, indicates the maximum weight limit for riders is 130 kilograms, or about 287 pounds. According to Tyre’s father, the teen weighed more than 300 pounds.

The Free Fall, operated by the SlingShot Group and manufactured by Funtime, opened at ICON Park alongside the Orlando Slingshot in December. The Free Fall remains closed while an investigation is conducted, and the SlingShot Group also closed the adjacent SlingShot ride following a request by ICON Park.

Over the weekend, Dollywood, the amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., said it temporarily closed its Drop Line ride, which was developed by the same manufacturer as the Free Fall.


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