NATIONAL NEWS

Teen who fell to his death at Florida amusement park was turned away from two other rides, his cousin says

Mar 30, 2022, 7:26 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:17 pm
A teenager died after falling from a drop tower at Orlando-area's ICON Park. (Josh duLac/CNN)...
A teenager died after falling from a drop tower at Orlando-area's ICON Park. (Josh duLac/CNN)
(Josh duLac/CNN)

(CNN) — The teen who fell to his death last week from an amusement park ride in Florida said he was turned away from two other rides at the park because of his size, according to his cousin.

Tyre Sampson fell Thursday from the Orlando FreeFall drop tower, which takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph, according to ICON Park, where the incident happened.

Shay Johnson spoke with 14-year-old Tyre by phone just before he got on the FreeFall drop tower at the park, she told CNN affiliate Spectrum News 13.

Johnson dropped Tyre off at the park, she said, and he told her he wanted to ride the swing. “I said ‘OK. Ride it twice, and ride it for me, too,'” Johnson said.

“He called me back about 7 minutes later. He said ‘They said I’m too big. I can’t ride,'” Johnson said in the interview with Spectrum News 13.

Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, has also raised the question of his son’s size, telling CNN on Friday: “My son was 6’5,” 340. So, he’s a big guy.”

Johnson said she told Tyre to try another ride, the SlingShot, but he was also told he was too big. He told her there was one more ride he was going to try.

It was the Orlando FreeFall. “He called me he say, ‘They let me ride. I can ride. I can ride,'” she remembered him telling her before getting on it.

“I didn’t know it would be my last time talking to him alive. He just wanted to ride and have a good time,” she said.

The ride’s operations and maintenance manual, which has been posted online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, indicates the maximum passenger weight is 130 kilograms (approximately 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 states.

CNN has reached out to ride operator Slingshot Group to ask whether Tyre fit properly and whether he was denied boarding the other ride the group operates due to his size.

Not clear if the seat fit the teen properly

Tyre’s seat was locked when the ride landed, an accident report obtained by CNN said.

“Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped,” said the report filed by the operator with the fair rides division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Tyre came out of the seat when the magnets engaged to slow the ride during the descent, according to the report, which was based on ride employee witnesses and was obtained by CNN.

Accident report in teen’s Florida park ride death says seat was locked

The report named three witnesses, all listed as employees.

It’s not clear whether Tyre fit the contours of the seat or if the bracket fit properly.

Video circulating on social media, purportedly of the ICON Park incident, shows a person falling from their seat about five seconds into the ride’s drop, perhaps about two-thirds of the way down, as the ride slowed as it approached the ground.

The FreeFall ride is closed while the accident is being investigated. And on Tuesday, Slingshot Group said it had suspended another of its rides, the SlingShot.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of Tyre Sampson and absolutely devastated for his family and loved ones,” the group said in a statement.

“We have suspended the operations of the FreeFall ride and the Slingshot ride at Icon Park. We are fully cooperating with the authorities at the state and local levels who are investigating this tragic incident. We plan on providing additional information in the coming days, as we learn more,” the statement said.

ICON Park on Monday said it had demanded that Slingshot Group suspend them both “until such time as a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities has been completed and all parties are satisfied that the rides are safe for the public.”


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Italy. Lazio. Rome. Via della Conciliazione. St. Peter Basilica. (Photo by: Fotia Francesco/AGF/Uni...
Julia Buckley, CNN

Tourist smashes two statues in the Vatican

A tourist smashed two ancient Roman sculptures into pieces at the Vatican on Wednesday.
18 hours ago
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 03:  Actors Brad Pitt (L) and Angelina Jolie arrive at the premiere of...
ANDREW DALTON AP Entertainment Writer

Angelina Jolie details Brad Pitt abuse allegations in court filing

A court filing Tuesday from Angelina Jolie alleges that on a 2016 flight, Brad Pitt grabbed her by the head and shook her then choked one of their children and struck another when they tried to defend her.
18 hours ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Police say California serial killer ‘on a mission’ in slayings

A California serial killer seems to be "on a mission" throughout the fatal shooting of six men and the wounding of one woman dating back to last year.
18 hours ago
...
Andrew Adams

Relatives scramble to relocate Florida woman to Utah after she lost everything to Ian

Family members were scrambling Tuesday to get a relative in Florida safely to Utah after she lost everything to Hurricane Ian.
18 hours ago
FILE - The logo of the Organization of the Petroleoum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is seen outside of...
David McHugh, AP Business Writer

OPEC+ makes big oil cut to boost prices; pump costs may rise

OPEC+ alliance makes big cut to world oil production to boost sagging prices, which could mean rising costs at the pump
18 hours ago
FILE: Photos of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins are displayed before a vigil held to honor her at A...
Chloe Melas, CNN

Alec Baldwin reaches settlement with Halyna Hutchins’ family

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer killed on the "Rust" movie set in 2021, and Alec Baldwin have reached a settlement.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Teen who fell to his death at Florida amusement park was turned away from two other rides, his cousin says