Vigil held for 14-year-old boy who died in fall from Orlando thrill ride

Tyre Sampson was visiting from Missouri

A growing memorial for Tyre Sampson at ICON Park in Orlando. (Jerry Askin, Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A prayer vigil was held Monday for the 14-year-old boy who died after falling from a drop tower at ICON Park along International Drive.

The teen — identified as Tyre Sampson of Missouri — fell from the Orlando Free Fall attraction, billed as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, late Thursday, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, deputies said.

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More than 50 people attended the vigil to honor the teen and call for action. For hours Monday, loved ones and even complete strangers called for action and showed their support at the ride where Sampson died.

Dozens of people gathered at the attraction site over the weekend, adding to a growing memorial in front of the ride. Many who showed up and paid their respects Sunday did not know the boy.

“It was such a tragedy and I feel like every rallied around just to be around the family and just to be able to come out and show our support,” said Sierra Williams, who came to see the memorial.

Sampson was visiting Orlando with another family prior to the fall, investigators said. Video showing the fatal fall, which News 6 and will not show due to its graphic nature, was shared on social media. It appears to show the boy slipping from his harness before the fall.

One of the callers told emergency dispatchers that the teen was not breathing and that he was already dead before help arrived.

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The company that operates the ride, the SlingShot Group, told News 6 workers are responsible for checking lights on the restraint system to ensure they are properly secured. The company added that the ride will not operate if the restraints do not lock properly.

“The ride will not ascend unless the harnesses are locked in,” said John Stine, director of sales and marketing for The SlingShot Group. “There were no indications there was anything different. So this is what we’ve got to find out.”

The ride, which opened in December 2021 and is billed as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, takes up to 30 guests high into the air before dropping 400 feet at about 75 mph.

The drop tower is shut down indefinitely as state inspectors from the Florida Department of Agriculture begin their investigation into how Sampson fell from the ride.


About the Author:

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