Tragedy struck at ICON Park in Orlando on International Drive last month, where 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was released from his seat and fell to his death while riding the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower, the Orlando FreeFall.
While the investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is still ongoing, the state released key records that the maximum weight to ride the Orlando FreeFall was 287 pounds. WESH reports that an attorney for the family told them the boy was “well over 300 pounds,” and, according to the manual, should not have been allowed to ride. In addition, the family recently shared that the teen had already been turned down on two rides that night before boarding the Orlando FreeFall.
As family and friends continue to grieve the tragic situation and investigators look for answers, it seems a strange incident has occurred with a woman who apparently is not related to Sampson or his family.
Shay Johnson was at the forefront of vigil efforts outside the Orlando FreeFall ride and claimed to be the cousin of Sampson. She collected signatures for a petition and even held news conferences to speak about the tragedy that unfolded at ICON Park. The only problem is that no one in the family had ever heard of her.
An investigation confirmed that Johnson had no ties to the family.
WFTV reported that Johnson was fired from an adult-entertainment club in Orlando, according to a statement from the club.
A report from Wionn News says that Johnson, whose real name is Lewishena Brown, had attempted to set up a GoFundMe page for phony collections for the family. She’s apparently not the only one either, as several GoFundMe pages claiming to be to benefit the family’s funeral expenses have been taken down after being proven as fake.
As a result, ICON Park demanded that SlingShot Group– the group that operates Orlando FreeFall– suspend not only the operation of Orlando FreeFall but also Orlando SlingShot.
“As the landlord of the 20-acre entertainment destination in the center of the Orlando Entertainment District, ICON Park’s mission is to provide safe, family entertainment,” the company said. “We rely on our tenants to be experts at what they do. In the interests of public safety, ICON Park demands that the SlingShot Group suspend not only the operation of Orlando FreeFall but also the operation of Orlando SlingShot, effective immediately, continuing 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 tragedy has caused many theme parks and fans to take another look at rider safety.
A sister ride called “Drop Line,” made by Funtime Rides, was recently closed indefinitely by Dollywood, located in Tennessee. The ride has metal shoulder restraints that look different from the Orlando FreeFall and, unlike the Orlando ride, which tilts forward at the top before descending, the Dollywood ride keeps riders upright.
Inside the Magic will continue to keep you updated on the ongoing investigation.