Skip to main content

Family Of Teenager Who Died In Florida Theme Park Tragedy Is Lawyering Up

Icon Park's Wheel
(Image credit: Icon Park)

The recent tragic death of a teenager at Orlando’s Icon Park has rocked the theme park community, with the horrific incident currently being investigated. As an investigation is currently underway into what exactly went wrong with Orlando-Free Fall, the ride at the center of it all, there are going to be a lot of questions that will need to be asked and answered throughout. Which leads us to the most recent turn of events, as the family of victim Tyre Sampson is now lawyering up.

According to reporting from local NBC affiliate WFLA, the Sampson family has “separately retained” attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard to litigate their son’s death. The Missouri family is clearly looking to get to the bottom of just what caused Tyre Sampson’s death at Icon Park last Thursday, which resulted from a malfunction of the ride safety system on Orlando-Free Fall. One of the two “giants” brought to the park (opens in new tab) in summer 2021, much discussion about the operating condition of said attraction has been had. 

Both riders and the owners of the ride itself have spoken out about their concerns since moments before the incident. Video of riders allegedly raising concerns about the seatbelt system shortly before the fatal incident have made it onto the internet. Meanwhile a statement from John Stine, the spokesman of the Slingshot Group that owns the ride, indicated that the company is unclear how this could have happened. Addressing this matter yet again, Stine gave another statement that read as follows: 

Again, everything was functioning properly when the ride started. What we don’t know is what happened after that. We’re just deeply saddened and shocked by what happened last night. Our hearts break for the family.

Naturally, the Slingshot Group has sworn up and down that all safety checks were done before operating Orlando-Free Fall, with no indicators of the ride’s operation being anything but standard. In the world of theme parks and the attractions that are offered to guests, there’s always a bit of implied risk that goes with the territory. With parks looking to amp up thrills for the guests in a safe, but exciting manner, concerns of proper ride operation will always be at the forefront.

Unfortunately, even with the tightest safety restrictions and the most advanced ride systems in the world, things can still go wrong. In times like these, all that one can hope for is a prompt investigation into the faults at hand. And a strategy going forward that can prevent such tragedies from happening again. While it’s not always to the deadly extent we’ve seen with Orlando-Free Fall, or even in last year’s death at Iowa’s Adventureland theme park, the moments that do result in fatalities are nevertheless upsetting. 

It’s still early days for the official investigation into what happened at Icon Park, but as developments occur, the full picture will become clearer. Theme parks across the world will more than likely respond with their own heightened restrictions, much as they have taken their cues when it comes to more subdued matters like in-park mask mandates. In the meantime, continued condolences are in order for the family of Tyre Sampson, in this difficult time of mourning and reconciliation. 

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.