ORLANDO, Fla. – The father of a 14-year-old boy who fatally fell from an Orlando attraction demanded that ICON Park tear down the Orlando FreeFall ride Monday.
“The goal is is to get 25,000 signed petitions to get this ride taken down,” said Yarnell Sampson — Tyre Sampson’s father — who spoke alongside his lawyer, Ben Crump. “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.”
The news conference Monday follows the release of his son’s autopsy report.
Tyre Sampson was visiting Orlando on spring break from Missouri when he fell to his death on the Orlando FreeFall attraction.
“I guarantee, you open that ride again, somebody else gonna’ die,” Yarnell Sampson said. “It should never be operational at all.”
The autopsy report released last week revealed the teen was nearly 100 pounds over the weight limit when he fell from the thrill ride at ICON Park in March.
“He didn’t ask for that. He was coming here for vacation, for have fun,” Yarnell Sampson said. “I would like to have a permanent memorial for my son, stating that he passed away, and his legacy will live on.”
His message comes after a state investigation found the operator of the ride made manual adjustments, resulting in the ride not being safe.
“No words to describe a father or a parent or a mother, burying their child,” Yarnell Sampson said during a news conference in April. “It’s no word to describe that.”
“Because Tyre Sampson matters, his life matters,” said Crump.
Crump and Yarnell Sampson were also joined by state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, who plans to introduce the “Tyre Sampson bill” to the Florida Legislature.
“We’re still working on the bill that will be filed the very first day of the next legislative session,” Thompson said. “This bill that will be introduced will take into account the safety records of any company that wants to operate a ride of this nature.”
Yarnell Sampson is speaking to reporters more than a month after the tragedy, demanding change. The autopsy also ruled Sampson’s manner of death by accident and his cause of death as blunt force trauma.
He and Tyre’s mother filed a lawsuit back in April suing several companies, including the ride operator and the manufacturer.
The family said more could have been done, including installing seatbelts, and that the operator failed to post warnings about proper height and weight restrictions.
The Orlando Slingshot Group released this statement following the Monday’s news conference:
“We support the concepts outlined today in Florida Senator Geraldine Thompson’s ‘Tyre Sampson Bill’. The safety of our patrons always comes first. Our company is not planning to open a new ride at ICON Park, however, we do hope to reopen the Slingshot ride, once we have all the necessary approvals from the Department of Agriculture. Also, we have been coordinating with representatives of Tyre’s family to return items from the memorial area to them, and we will continue to do so in the future.”