Family of Teenager Who Fell to His Death in Orlando Theme Park Search for Answers

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A couple of weeks ago, a 14-year-old teenager from Missouri fell to his death from a ride at the ICON Park in Orlando, Florida. Witnesses on the scene had reported that a person had fallen from the Free Fall ride, which is a premier attraction at the park. The deputies who reported to the scene discovered that the person who had fallen was Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old boy. Sampson was immediately taken to the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

John Mina, the Orange County sheriff, commented:

“It appears to be a terrible tragedy,”

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. We can’t imagine what they’re going through.”

Hardware Malfunctions?

Investigations immediately went underway following the tragedy. However, it was found out that the Free Fall ride was inspected for the first time back on December 20 of last year. During the inspection, no deficiencies were found, and the ride was cleared for operation. Since the Free Fall is a new attraction at the park and protocol dictates that safety inspections are conducted just twice a year, the ride hadn’t been inspected since its initial assessment.

The sales and marketing director of Slingshot Companies, the owner and operator of Free Fall, John Stine, came out with his words of regret over the incident. He said:

“Words can’t say how we feel,”

“Our hearts go out to the family of this young man and that’s all we can say at this time.”

Too Big for the Ride?

However, new information has surfaced care of one Shay Johnson, who claims to have been a cousin of Sampson. Johnson claimed that she was communicating with Sampson just before he fell to his death. Sampson had apparently called Johnson expressing his dismay at the fact that he had been turned away from various rides at the park. It was Johnson who had dropped Sampson off at the ICON Park earlier that evening.

Johnson narrated:

“He said ‘They said I’m too big. I can’t ride,’”

She immediately tried to reassure him by encouraging him to try other rides.

However, Sampson had told her that he had already been turned away by another ride as well called the SlingShot, which he was particularly looking forward to. A few minutes later, an elated Sampson called Johnson back, saying that the park staff had allowed him to ride the Free Fall.

Recent information has surfaced that the operating manual of the Free Fall ride states that the maximum limit of the ride is approximately 287 pounds. Sampson’s father has come out to say that his son weight somewhere around 325 pounds when he strapped himself into the ride.

Share Your Thoughts

As unfortunate as this event is, it seems like there’s really no one to blame. Comment down below what you think on the matter. Should the park have instituted stricter protocols on weight limits for rides?


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  1. Yes, weight protocols need to be enforced. It’s a sad situation when a child is too tall and to big to ride amusement park rides but safety is the most important. Looking at the pictures of him sitting in the seat it’s very obvious he didn’t fit correctly in the seat. He’s too tall for the harness to fit correctly and his belly left a huge cap between him and the seat. I think a red light/green light scale would help out. If you stand on the scale and the light turns green you are fine to ride. If it turns red then you just can’t ride. I would rather somebody tell me that I couldn’t ride than to die not fitting on the seat properly.

  2. I believe the tragic incident could have been prevented for several reasons. If the ride had a weight restrictions why wasnt it enforced? If a person appears to look over weight why not have a scale at the site and weigh them before allowing them to get onto the ride. Even if they ride operator did a safety check the incident would have probably have happened being that the young man exceeded the weight restriction and the force of his weight would’ve made the harness malfunction, if that was truly the reason. How ever it went it was a tragedy. Hopefully this will never happen again.Prayers go out to the family.

  3. Primarily, for the safety of the riders, IF there are any limitations/maximum capacity/height requirement, YES! YES! YES! they should have been stricter. The lack of following restrictions, (that a rider is unaware of!) has sadly, cost a life. He weighed over the ride’s weight capacity, there’s no doubt he wasn’t properly secured. So sad.

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