IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Second ride suspended at Orlando’s ICON Park after teen's fatal fall

Officials at the Florida amusement park where Tyre Sampson, 14, fell to his death said the Orlando SlingShot attraction should be closed until it is proven safe by authorities.

A second ride owned by the company that makes ICON Park's Orlando FreeFall, the attraction from which a 14-year-old boy fell to his death last week, has been temporarily closed, its owner said Tuesday.

Deputies responded to the Orlando FreeFall attraction at ICON Park just after 11 p.m. Thursday after receiving a 911 call about someone falling from a ride, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

The teen, identified as Tyre Sampson, was taken to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, where he died, according to officials. He was visiting from Missouri.

On Tuesday, the owner of the FreeFall and another ride in the park, the Slingshot, said both were closed.

"We have suspended the operations of the FreeFall ride and the Slingshot ride at Icon Park," Ritchie Armstrong, the CEO of the Slingshot Group, said in a statement.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of Tyre Sampson and absolutely devastated for his family and loved ones. We are fully cooperating with the authorities at the state and local levels who are investigating this tragic incident," Armstrong said.

The FreeFall and SlingShot are the only rides owned by SlingShot Group on ICON Park’s property.

ICON Park on Monday "formally notified the owner of the Orlando FreeFall, the SlingShot Group, demanding suspension not only of the operation of Orlando FreeFall but also the operation of Orlando SlingShot, effective immediately, until the attractions are proven to be safe by authorities," ICON said in a statement.

"ICON Park’s mission is to provide safe, family entertainment. We rely on our tenants to be experts at what they do," the statement said.

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

People visit a makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Sampson, a teenager visiting from Missouri on spring break, fell to his death while on the ride.
People visit a makeshift memorial for Tyre Sampson outside the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park on March 27, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Sampson, a teenager visiting from Missouri on spring break, fell to his death while on the ride.Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

The operator told investigators that the "FreeFall was coming ... down the tower" at the time of the incident, according to a report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection.

"When the magnets engaged, the patron came out of the seat," the operator said, according to the report. "Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped."

Officials with the department said last week that the FreeFall was inspected Dec. 20. No deficiencies were found, and the ride passed its inspection, officials said. Because FreeFall is a new ride, and the agency conducts safety inspections twice a year, no additional inspections on it had occurred. 

A barrier is being built around the ride, "so the investigation can continue without interruption," according to ICON Park.

"We continue to grieve the passing of Tyre Sampson and our thoughts are with his family and friends," the park said Monday in a statement. "This was the saddest day in the history of ICON Park and we’re working hard to make sure this never happens again."