Orlando FreeFall coming down after 14-year-old boy fell to his death

Tyre Sampson died in March when he slipped from seat

Orlando FreeFall attraction at ICON Park to be torn down following teen's death

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando thrill ride where a 14-year-old boy fell to his death earlier this year is being taken down, according to a statement from the attraction’s operator, according to News 6 in Orlando.

The Slingshot Group released a statement on Thursday on its plans for the more than 400-foot attraction after the death of Tyre Sampson, who was visiting from Missouri on spring break in March.

The Orlando FreeFall attraction at ICON Park has been closed since the boy’s death. Sampson slipped out of his seat about halfway down the Orlando FreeFall.

The Slingshot Group operated the Orlando FreeFall, and the Orlando Slingshot, but after the teen died owners of ICON Park demanded the company suspend all ride operations.

ICON Park released a statement in response to the Slingshot Group’s decision, saying in part, “As the landlord, ICON Park welcomes and appreciates Orlando Slingshot’s decision to take down the ride.”

Rep. Geraldine Thompson planned to introduce the “Tyre Sampson bill” to the Florida Legislature to “take into account the safety records of any company that wants to operate a ride of this nature,” she said during a June news conference.

“Tearing down the Free Fall Ride shows consideration for the pain still suffered by the Sampson family and members of the community. The continued presence or operation of the Free Fall Ride would be a constant reminder of the disregard for the health, safety and well-being of Tyre Sampson and others who patronize our amusement parks. I will introduce legislation that hopefully will prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again,” Thompson said in a statement.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried’s office released a statement following the announcement the ride will be torn down.

“While the investigation is still ongoing, Commissioner Fried hopes that this news brings a measure of comfort to the family of Tyre Sampson and to the Orlando community,” the statement reads.

The Slingshot Group released a statement on Thursday on its plans for the more than 400-foot attraction after the death of Tyre Sampson, who was visiting from Missouri on spring break in March.

For months, the boy’s family has been calling for the ride to be torn down.

Yarnell Sampson, the 14-year-old’s father, spoke at the site of the attraction in June and demanded operators tear down the ride.

“The goal is to get 25,000 signed petitions to get this ride taken down,” Sampson said alongside his lawyer, Ben Crump, during the news conference. “What my wish is — I would like to have a permanent memorial here for my son stating that he had passed away and his legacy will live on and give proper respect to the dead that needs it.”

Yarnell Sampson and Tyre’s mother filed a lawsuit in April suing several companies, including the Slingshot Group and Funtime Thrill Rides, the manufacturer.

Attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard released the following statement after the attraction’s operator announced the ride would be torn down.

An autopsy report revealed the teen weighed 383 pounds and was just over 6 feet tall. According to a manual produced by the manufacturer of the ride, Funtime Thrill Rides, the maximum weight allowance for Orlando FreeFall is listed as 130 kilograms, or 286 pounds.

An independent forensic engineering firm hired in the investigation into a teen’s fatal fall found the operator of the thrill ride manually adjusted the sensors in the seat he was in, which made the ride unsafe.

The Slingshot Group said the timeline for when the ride will be taken down will be determined “by the approvals of all involved parties and regulatory entities.”

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.