Tyre Sampson’s Dad on Handling of Ride Death: ‘If It Was a European Child, It Would’ve Been Something Different’
The father of the teen who died after falling from a ride at ICON Park addressed a recently released autopsy report and more during a press conference.
The father of Tyre Sampson, the 14-year-old who fell to his death while on the Orlando FreeFall ride in March, is calling for the attraction to be permanently shut down.
During a press conference on Monday alongside attorneys Ben Crump and Natalie Jackson, per regional outlet WTSP, Yarnell Sampson—Tyre’s father—addressed the recent release of an autopsy report and questioned the handling of his son’s death at Florida’s ICON Park.
As previously reported, an autopsy report released by the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office last week said the 14-year-old died as a result of blunt force trauma and ruled the death an accident.
“So this medical examiner’s report confirms that Tyre was 97 pounds over the maximum requirement and he never, never should have been able to be on that ride in the first place,” attorney Kim Wald said at the time, per WESH.
Addressing the report’s release, as well as the larger handling of his son’s death by all involved parties, Yarnell said Monday he’s currently working to ensure the ride gets shut down.
“The goal is to get 25,000 signed petitions to get this ride taken down permanently,” he said, as seen below. “And with my wishes, I would like to have a permanent memorial out here for my son stating that he has passed away and that his legacy will live on. … Because he didn’t ask to die on that ride. He didn’t sign up for that. Actually, they signed up for him because they let him die.”
Asked specifically about the autopsy report, Yarnell detailed how its release felt like hearing the news for the first time again.
“Personally it felt like the first day I found out, when I seen the video [went] viral, and I found out. I feel like it’s a cover-up sham going on,” Yarnell said around the 21:35 mark in the video up top. “I feel like. personally, that they don’t want the world to know the truth because, I hate to say this, I don’t wanna use the race thing, but I believe that because my son is a Black young man that he’s getting treated like this and I believe if it was a European child, it would’ve been something different.”
These comments were largely directed at SlingShot Group (which owned and operated the ride) and ICON Park. In March, park officials said it had instructed SlingShot Group of the suspension of operations for both the Orlando FreeFall and Orlando SlingShot attractions. The following month, a rep said park officials were “deeply troubled” by preliminary findings of a state investigation showing that a sensor on the Orlando FreeFall had been improperly adjusted.
Also in April, a lawsuit was filed in Orange County Circuit Court on behalf of Yarnell. The suit argues that Tyre’s “wrongful death” was preceded by negligence from multiple defendants, including (but not limited to) ICON Park and SlingShot Group.