Accident Report for Teen’s Death on Ride at Florida Amusement Park Says Seat Was Locked

An accident report reveals the seat of a 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from an amusement park ride in Orlando remained locked throughout.

Photograph of amusement park in Florida

Image via Getty/Orlando Sentinel

Photograph of amusement park in Florida

An accident report on the death of a teen at an Orlando, Florida amusement park reveals that his seat was locked when he was on the ride.

14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell from his seat at ICON Park’s Freefall drop tower about two-thirds of the way down from a 430-foot descent. “Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped,” the report from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said. While the ride’s “magnets engaged” when it was dropping, Sampson “came out” of his seat, the report continued.

However, he might have been too big for the ride. The operations and maintenance manual for the Freefall says the maximum passenger weight is around 287 pounds. “Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so, do not let this person ride,” the manual reads.

At 6’5”, Sampson weighed 340 pounds, according to his father Yarnell Sampson, who told CNN his son was “a big guy.” He later succumbed to “multiple injuries and trauma” following the incident, which happened around 11 p.m. last Thursday.

A video of Sampson’s fall went viral on social media, with Yarnell telling WESH he only found out about his son’s death through the clip. “It felt like somebody hit me so hard in my stomach,” Yarnell said. “And it’s just sad, a young man’s bright future was taken away from him over a ride, an amusement park.”

No criminal charges have been filed but the investigation is still active. The Freefall first opened in late December and is now closed. Sampson’s family subsequently launched a petition to permanently close the ride.

“As the landlord of the 20-acre entertainment destination in the center of the Orlando Entertainment District, ICON Park’s mission is to provide safe, family entertainment,” ICON Park said in a statement, adding that the Orlando FreeFall and Orlando SlingShot are currently not in service. “We continue to grieve the passing of Tyre Sampson and our thoughts are with his family and friends. This was the saddest day in the history of ICON Park and we’re working hard to make sure this never happens again.” 

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