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Yarnell Samson said his son Tyre felt unsafe as soon as the “Orlando Free-Fall” ride at ICON Park began going up.
The 14-year-old boy who fell to his death at an Orlando theme park on Thursday night has been identified as Tire Sampson, a Missouri teenager who was vacationing with a friend’s family.
Tire died after slipping from his seat on the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park around 11 p.m. He was on vacation with a friend’s family who watched helplessly as he fell to the ground as the ride dropped to 75 mph. He was named by police at a news conference on Friday.
A photo of Tiro taken before the ride took off shows him sitting with his harness unbuckled and without lowering himself to his seat.
It’s unclear if the harness was fully closed before the ride went on the air, or if the tour operator checked to make sure he was fastened securely.
An investigation is now underway in the park. At a news conference Friday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said, “It appears to be a terrible tragedy.” We’ll see in the future how that turns out.’
The ride is owned and operated by The SlingShot Group, whose chief executive told WESH 2, a local NBC outlet: ‘We operate the ride with all safety precautions in mind. Everything is in its place.
And that’s why we’re doing this research. We are working with those people investigating right now.’
It comes less than two years after a park employee died after falling 200 feet from the Orlando StarFlyer attraction.
The 21-year-old employee was conducting a security check about halfway through the 450-foot ride when he plummeted to his death just before 8 a.m. on September 14, 2020.
The worker hit a platform under the ride at ICON Park on International Drive in Orlando and went into cardiac arrest, according to first responders who were called to the scene.
The man was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries.
The swing ride opened to the public in 2018.
According to the description on the attraction’s official site, StarFlyer has no age or weight limit, and the minimum height required to ride the attraction is only 44 inches.
The ride is made up of 24 double seats that travel up and down and around the giant tower for 3-4 minutes.
Tire and the rest of the group had been told moments before that there were no seat belts on the ride. The only thing that kept them from falling out of their seats were the drop-down plastic harnesses that are supposed to snap into place between passengers’ legs.
One woman was concerned that there was nothing else for her to keep them in the seats as the ride descended and she asked if there was a seat belt to hold them down. “There are no seat belts,” the ride attendant replied.
The boy fell out of his seat and landed on the ground shortly after to the horror of the other riders.
After they’re back on the ground, the video shows a different park worker running up to the ride attendant and asking, ‘Didn’t you check it!?’
He insisted that he did and she asked again, ‘Are you sure?’
Tire’s family paid tribute to him on social media as a “gentle giant”.
His stepmother Wendy said: ‘Tyre was a kind and respectful giant.
“We will miss you so much, son,” she said.
Park employees say they initially thought his body was a broken piece of play until they saw the boy lying on the ground.
It’s unclear what the minimum height restriction is for the ride or how he could have fallen out of the harness.
It is the second accident in the park in two years. In 2020, a park employee was killed while working on the StarFlyer attraction.
The teen was taken to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.
“At first we thought he was a part of the ride or whatever, until we got a little closer and he was a person lying on the ground.”
“Everyone was panicking and screaming,” the Montrey Williams park employee told FOX 35 Orlando.
The ride, Orlando Free Fall, opening in December 2021, is 430 feet tall and seats 30 people.
It falls to the ground at 75 miles per hour and spins around a central tower as it rises.
Once it reaches the top, riders lean forward and face the ground briefly before free-falling at about 75 miles per hour.
It was not immediately clear how the teen freed himself from the ride’s seat belt or how many people were in the tower at the time.
ICON Park on International Drive has not yet commented on the tragedy.
Tyre Sampson Quick and Facts
- Tyre Sampson, 14, died on Thursday night falling from a ride at Orlando’s ICON theme park in Florida
- He slipped out of his seat on the ride as it plummeted to the ground at 75mph
- A video was taken before the ride went into the air and the boy who died is not shown at first
- Others appear sitting with their harnesses down asking the operator if there are clip-in seatbelts
- ‘There ain’t no seatbelts’ he told them, before sending the ride into the air with the group held in by pull-down plastic harnesses
- His friend’s horrified parents watched on helplessly as he fell and then landed next to the ride