Tragedy struck in Orlando, Florida. On Thursday March 24, 14-year-old Tire Sampson died after falling from Icon Park’s “Orlando FreeFall” ride, a 130-meter-high free-fall tower known to be “the tallest in the world”. The accident happened shortly after 11 p.m. Rushed to hospital, the teenager from St. Louis, Missouri, died shortly after from his injuries. “We are devastated by what has happened to this youngster,” said John Stine, sales and marketing manager for the Slingshot Group, responsible for the offending attraction. “We want to understand what happened to this young man. Security is essential for us, both for our users and our employees.”
An investigation has been opened to determine the circumstances of the accident and the degree of responsibility of the owners of the ride. “Our role is to determine if this is an accident or an intentional act, said John Mina, sheriff of Orange County, during a press conference. For the moment, it seems to be a terrible tragedy.” Opened in December 2021, the “Orlando FreeFall” had passed all necessary safety inspections before it went into operation, says an inspection report revealed by CNN. According to John Stine, the young Tire Sampson had been well attached before the departure of the attraction.
“He was a big teddy bear, a gentle giant”
When asked by CNN, Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, said his son wants to be a professional footballer. “He was a very good man. A big teddy bear, a gentle giant,” he said. And to add, devastated: “I saw the video of his fall and I did not believe it. I want to know what really happened. I want to know why the bright future of a young man 14 years old was ripped from him.” The ride has been closed for an indefinite period.
Tire Sampson © DR