Family of Teen Who Died at ICON Park Says He Should Never Have Been on Ride

in Theme Parks

icon park freefall and the wheel

Credit: ICON Park

On Thursday, March 24, 2022, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, a high school football player from the St. Louis, Missouri area, died at Orlando, Florida’s ICON Park after falling from the Orlando FreeFall — a 450-foot-tall tower that opened last fall.

Attractions at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

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The ride opened alongside several other attractions, the Orlando SlingShot, the Orlando StarFlyer, and The Wheel. The SlingShot, StarFlyer, and FreeFall are three of the world’s tallest, free-standing thrill attractions. At the time they opened, an ICON Park press release noted:

“ICON Park is devoted to creating unforgettable experiences for our guests. The world’s tallest slingshot and drop tower make great additions to our world-class line up,” said Chris Jaskiewicz, ICON Park president and CEO. “Between The SlingShot Group’s three towering attractions and The Wheel, the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast, ICON Park truly is the ‘Land of the Giants’.”

Family arriving at ICON Park Orlando
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

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Now, Sampson’s family is speaking out, claiming the teen should never have been allowed on the FreeFall in the first place. They assert he was too heavy to ride and had actually been turned away from two other attractions due to his weight earlier on the day that the tragedy occurred.

The Today Show reported:

“I would want for y’all to hurt his little feelings and tell him not to get on,” a cousin told NBC affiliate WESH of Orlando. “And, see, his life would have been still here.”

Relatives, including father Yarnell Sampson and cousin Shay Johnson, have said Tyre Sampson was about 6 feet 5 inches tall and 340 pounds.

Johnson told WESH that the teenager called her Thursday and told her “he really wanted to ride the swing,” a ride ICON calls StarFlyer, the cousin said.

But, he was turned away because of his weight, she said.

“Then he said he went to the SlingShot,” Johnson said. “They told him he was too big for that .. . Y’all did not let him get on those two, but y’all let him get on that one, being overweight.”

Guests at The Wheel at ICON Park
Credit: ICON Park Orlando

You can watch WESH Orlando’s original video in full below:


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Previously, the SlingShot Group, which operates the Orlando FreeFall ride, issued a statement that said:

“We are heartbroken at the incident that took the life of one of our guests. We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to his family and friends. We are working with the Sheriff’s Office and ride officials on a full investigation. The Orlando FreeFall will be closed until further notice.”

Stay tuned to ITM for additional developments regarding this ongoing situation.

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