Ride Owner Speaks Out After Teen Dies In Tragic Orlando Amusement Park Fall

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

After a young man fell to his death from a ride at an Orlando amusement park, many were left wondering how this tragedy could have been prevented. As the investigation into what happened continues, a spokesperson for the company that owns the ride has released a statement regarding its safety. 

On Thursday, March 25, a 14-year-old Icon Park visitor died while riding the Orlando Free Fall, a 430-foot freestanding drop tower. While everyone knows there are always risks involved with any amusement park ride, his death is still shocking – especially since rides like these should be designed to secure all passengers safely. There are still no concrete answers as to what went wrong but according to CBS News, John Stine of the ride’s owner Slingshot Group, released a statement on behalf of the company: 

It's very difficult to say [what could have gone wrong].The way the ride is designed, with all the safety features and redundancy, there shouldn't be an issue.We are deeply saddened and sorry.

Both Slingshot Group and Icon Park are working with authorities during their investigation into the death of the teen, who has been identified as Tyre Sampson by the Orange County Sheriff’s office. The Free Fall is a new attraction at the Orlando amusement park, which is located on International Drive not far from Disney World. The ride has has been in operation for about three months. 

The safety mechanisms for the Orlando Free Fall appear to be an over-the-shoulder harness, and some have questioned if Sampson’s were employed effectively. However, there has been no official determination yet. Stine said that the ride is designed to only function if each rider has been fully locked in. 

Even when attractions are regularly maintained and safety protocols are followed, danger is never out of the question. Over the last year and a half, fluctuations in COVID rates have been a concern for some amusement park visitors. Several people were arrested last year after they brought firearms onto Disney Parks property. Earlier this year, Disney World’s Space Mountain was evacuated out of caution after a refrigerator within the building began to emit smoke.

And while deaths at amusement parks are rare, they are sadly not unheard of. In 2021, an 11-year-old died at Iowa’s Adventureland after the Raging River raft he was riding overturned. Last year, a Disney World guest passed away after a medical emergency, after which local authorities stressed the importance of having an ample amount of first responders to tackle such situations should they arise.

According to CNN, Sampson’s parents have hired legal representation as they seek answers on the situation. Icon Park has released multiple statements regarding the tragedy on their website. The Orlando Free Fall will remain closed during the investigation. 

Katherine Webb