Orlando FreeFall to be torn down after death of 14-year-old
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A towering amusement ride in central Florida’s tourism district where a Missouri teen fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday.
Tyre Sampson, 14, died in March after falling from the Free Fall ride during a spring break trip to Orlando’s ICON Park amusement center.
An autopsy showed that Tyre Sampson suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries in the fall, which was ruled an accidental death. It showed Sampson weighed 383 pounds (173 kilograms), well above the ride manual’s weight limit of 287 pounds (130 kilograms).
An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in the teen not being properly secured. The report said there were many other “potential contributions” to the accident and that a full review of the ride’s design and operations was needed.
“We are devastated by Tyre’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall,” said Ritchie Armstrong, with Orlando Slingshot. “In addition, Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name.’”
The details of the scholarship are being developed and will be shared in the future, after consultation with Sampson’s family.
ICON Park issued the following statement about the removal of the ride:
“The Orlando Slingshot leases land from ICON Park, which supports the decision to take down the ride. Tyre’s death is a tragedy that we will never forget. As the landlord, ICON Park welcomes and appreciates Orlando Slingshot’s decision to take down the ride,” said ICON Park.“
Attorneys for the Sampson family – Ben Crump and Bob Hillard – issued the following statement:
“While this announcement is long overdue, the news today is a relief to Tyre Sampson’s grieving father, who has been advocating for this since the day Tyre fell to his death. The Orlando Free Fall ride never should have been permitted to operate under those faulty conditions. Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family.”
It’s not yet clear when the ride will be taken down.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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