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Missouri boy, 14, dies after fall from ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida

Tyre Sampson was visiting the state, Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina said. The sheriff's office will determine if his death was an accident.
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A 14-year-old boy visiting from Missouri died Thursday night after falling from a ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, authorities said Friday.

Deputies responded to the Orlando Free Fall attraction at ICON Park just after 11 p.m. Thursday after receiving a 911 call, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“Witnesses on scene reported that someone had fallen from the ride,” the agency said.

The teen was taken to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, where he died from his injuries, according to officials.

Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina identified the boy during an afternoon news conference as Tyre Sampson.

Mina said the investigation is still in its early stages, but no charges have been filed and investigators are trying to determine how the boy fell to his death.

"It appears to be a terrible tragedy," the sheriff said. "Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. We can't imagine what they're going through."

The sheriff's office will determine conclusively if Sampson's death was an accident, according to Mina. The state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the agency that will oversee if the ride's safety was compromised, he said.

Based on investigators speaking to witnesses on the ride, employees at the park and watching videos circulating of the incident, Mina said there’s been no indication anything was wrong prior to Sampson falling to his death.

A spokesperson with the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said its investigation is underway and inspectors will be on site Friday. The spokesperson declined further comment.

Officials with the department said Friday the Free Fall ride was inspected for the first time on Dec. 20. No deficiencies were found and the ride passed its inspection, officials said. Because Free Fall is a new ride, and the agency conducts safety inspections twice a year, no additional inspections on it had occurred prior to Thursday night, officials said.

"Words can’t say how we feel," said John Stine, director of sales and marketing for the Slingshot Group of Companies, the owner and operator of the ride. "Our hearts go out to the family of this young man and that’s all we can say at this time."

Florida, aerial view of The Wheel at ICON Park, Orlando Star flyer swing, amusement park ride
An aerial view of ICON Park, in Orlando, Fla.Jeff Greenberg / UIG via Getty file

Carl Sampson, Tyre's uncle, said the teen was in Florida with teammates from his football team. Tyre stood 6-feet-6 and weighed about 280 pounds as an eighth-grader, Sampson said.

"He was a really good kid. Really respectable. It was always, 'No sir. Yes sir. ... He had a bright future ahead. He was very intelligent.'"

Sampson said his nephew was excited to be in Florida and was a fan of amusement parks. "It is hard to believe. He was just 14 years old. It was very tragic that it happened. He was too young."

Sampson, who lives in St. Louis and is the brother of Tyre's father, said the boy's parents were not doing well.

According to ICON Park’s website, the Orlando Free Fall ride, a free-standing drop tower, is meant to stand at 430 feet and can carry up to 30 riders.

"We operate the ride with all the safety precaution in mind," Stine said, adding the boy was secured in a safety harness at the time of incident.

The ride, which is currently closed, "will open when there’s appropriate time," Stine said.

The park did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Thursday's tragedy was not the only time a person had fallen to their death from a ride at ICON Park. On Sept. 14, 2020, 21-year-old Jacob Kaminsky, a worker, fell more than 200 feet from the StarFlyer attraction while climbing the ride to conduct a safety check, a relative of Kaminsky's confirmed Friday. The family member, who asked not to be named, declined additional comment.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration report said an employee and a coworker were climbing a ladder to the upper level of the ride to perform daily inspections and maintenance tasks.

The coworker was climbing above the employee on the ladder when he turned to observe the employee just as the employee lost his grip and fell. That employee fell approximately 225 feet and landed on a lower level platform near the ground and was killed, according to OSHA.

StarFlyer is also owned by the Slingshot group.

The Orlando Sentinel reported in May that Kaminsky was not hooked up properly to the StarFlyer’s safety device that would have prevented his fall, according to OSHA's investigation that ruled the attraction’s owners should not be penalized since the company didn’t commit safety violations.

Representatives with OSHA could not be reached for comment Friday.