Florida Company to Tear Down Ride That Killed St. Louis Teen

Tyre Sampson died in March after slipping out of an Orlando free fall ride

click to enlarge Tyre Sampson was an eighth grader from St. Louis County. - Screenshot from KMOV
Screenshot from KMOV
Tyre Sampson was an eighth grader from St. Louis County.

An amusement park ride that killed a St. Louis teen in Florida will be torn down.

Orlando Slingshot announced Thursday that the Orlando Free Fall ride, the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, will be disassembled after public calls for the company to tear it down.

Fourteen-year-old Tyre Sampson fell from his seat when he rode the free fall ride in March at Icon Park. An investigation into his death found adjustments had been made to the ride to accommodate riders who did not fit the ride's weight requirements. The ride had not been inspected again since the adjustments.

Sampson, from St. Louis County, was 6'5" and over 300 lbs, surpassing the ride’s height and weight limit. He slipped out of his harness and died from blunt force trauma. The death was especially shocking because it was captured on video and made the rounds on social media.

Since his death, Sampson’s family and supporters have called on Icon Park and Orlando Slingshot to tear Orlando Free Fall down.

In interviews with news outlets, Sampson’s family mourned the life of their son, who would have turned 15 in August. He dreamed of playing professional football and buying his mother a house. He was in Orlando for a weeklong football training camp.

Orlando Sentinel reports that Orlando Slingshot, the company that operates the ride, had shut down the Free Fall and another ride at Icon Park after Sampson's death.

In April, Sampson’s family sued Orlando Slingshot, Icon Park and several other businesses. Renowned personal-injury attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard took on Sampson’s case. The lawsuit is still ongoing.

On Thursday, Crump and Hilliard said Orlando Free Fall’s tear-down was “long overdue.”

“The Orlando Free Fall ride never should have been permitted to operate under those faulty conditions,” the attorneys said in a joint statement. “Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family.”

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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