The horrific scenes after a 14-year-old boy fell to his death from the Orlando Free Fall (drop tower) attraction at ICON Park late Thursday night/early Friday morning was all caught on camera.
“You guys checked him?” one Orlando Free Fall employee could be heard saying. “The light was on,” a co-employee responded. “You sure you check him?” another employee of Orlando Free Fall said.
Minutes before the attraction started, a younger woman (girl) strapped into a seat of the attraction could be heard questioning the harness system of Orlando Free Fall.
“Why doesn’t this have like the little clippy clip? Like the seatbelt? the girl said. “The seatbelt? There ain’t any,” one of the attraction operators told the girl.
We have to point out that the girl was sat one group over from where the 14-year-old boy, formally identified as Tyre Sampson from Missouri, was sitting on the attraction.
Yesterday afternoon, an inspector with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (FDOACA) spent a lengthy amount of time taking a look at the Orlando Free Fall. The inspector paid attention to one seat, we can assume it was Sampson was sitting before falling to his death.
During the inspection, the inspector got into the seat, moved the safety equipment, and reportedly took measurements of the gap at the bottom of the safety equipment. The inspector then got out of the seat and tugged against the harness system with a good amount of weight to see whether it would budge.
Sling Shot Group’s John Stine told Fox 35 News the following:
“We are working OCSO [Orange County Sheriff’s Office and other organisations to figure out what happened. We have a number of items in place to ensure everything is operating fine. That’s why we’re going to be engaged in this investigation.”John Stine, Sling Shot Group
In case you don’t know, Sling Shot Group operates the two attractions at ICON Park.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina told reporters that deputies did the initial investigation. You can read what Mina said below:
“Our role in this situation is to determine whether this was an accident or intentional act, and this does appear to be just a terrible tragedy.”John Mina, OCSO Sheriff
The inspector didn’t speak reporters before leaving the property. At this time, it’s unclear how long this investigation will take. However, we can assume it’s going to be a thorough investigation.
Could Sampson’s size played a part in his tragic fall off the Orlando Free Fall? It’s a question that’s being asked.
Yarnell Sampson, Tyre’s father, said his son started to panic when the attraction started. Tyre reportedly told friends something didn’t feel right. Sampson now wonders if his son should have been allowed to ride ICON Park’s newest attraction in the first place.
“My son is 6 [six] feet, 5 [five] inches, [and] 340 pounds.”Yarnell Sampson
Sampson said the 14-year-old who had aspirations to make it to the NFL had been turned away from other attractions because of his size.
“This one particular ride decided, ‘We can take you! Come on, get on!’ No one else allowed him to get on the ride, so I’m wondering what happened between now and then that made them say, ‘Come on, get this ride!’”Yarnell Sampson
Ken Martin, an amusement ride safety consultant, said that (mentioned above) could be part of the investigation. Martin told Fox 35 the following:
“Just remember, when you come down, that’s a negative g-force versus a positive g-force when you’re held into the seat. That shoulder harness is there to keep you from coming out of that ride.”Ken Martin
Martin said a lot of rides have weight limits, however, no one with Orlando Free Fall has answered our questions about what rules were to ride. Orlando Free Fall riders are held in place with the shoulder harness and no additional belt:
“That’s one of the things that I’m curious in this particular ride – we have a large individual and how far did he click his harness down.”Ken Martin
Dollywood has a drop tower attraction built by the same manufacturer as Orlando Free Fall. The park has said in a rider safety document that guests of a larger stature may not be able to ride due to the nature of the restraint system.
“This should never happen to anyone’s child ever again.”Yarnell Sampson
Late last night, ICON Park released a statement on the death of Tyre Sampson. You can read the park’s statement in full below:
“Tonight, the ICON Park family is grieving because of the tragedy involving Tyre Sampson. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends. ICON Park is committed to being a place where families can spend quality time together in a safe and fun space. We are in close coordination and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and regulators regarding our tenant, the SlingShot Group.”ICON Park
A Statement from ICON Park: pic.twitter.com/ubFxoSmGdz— ICON Park (@iconparkorlando) March 26, 2022
Stay tuned for further updates regarding this investigation. Our thoughts, prayers and love remain with the family and friends of Tyre.
Stay tuned to Orlando Theme Park Zone for more Orlando theme park-related news and information.
H/T Fox 35