ORLANDO, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy died late Thursday in a fall from a thrill ride in the Orlando tourist district, deputies said.
The teen fell from the Orlando Free Fall attraction, billed as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, around 11:10 p.m. at ICON Park along International Drive, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, deputies said.
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Witnesses called 911 after seeing the teen — identified as Tyre Sampson of Missouri by Sheriff John Mina — fall from the ride as it was plummeting down. Video showing the fatal fall, which News 6 and ClickOrlando.com will not show due to its graphic nature, was shared on social media.
It’s not known how the boy fell from the drop tower, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty.
The Orlando Free Fall, which opened in December, takes up to 30 guests high into the air before dropping 400 feet at 70 mph.
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The company that operates the thrill ride said it is working with authorities to determine what happened.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this young man,” said John Stine, director of sales and marketing for The Slingshot Group, adding that there had been no issues previously reported with the ride.
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings released a statement about the tragedy.
“I offer my deepest condolences for the family of the 14-year-old boy who died following the tragic incident at Icon Park,” Demings said. “I look to receiving more information about what happened in the incident and what will be done to prevent it from ever happening again. The Florida Department of Agriculture and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office investigations will bring clarity to the circumstances and next steps.”
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees amusement ride inspections, with the exception of the state’s largest theme parks.
“We will have inspectors onsite (Friday) with our investigation underway, and therefore we are not able to comment further at this point in time,” FDAC said in an email to News 6.
Orlando Free Fall and the adjacent Orlando Sling Shot, also operated by The Slingshot Group will remain closed indefinitely, Stine said.
ICON Park released a statement Friday afternoon about the teen’s death.
“A tragedy occurred last night at the Orlando FreeFall and our hearts are heavy with sadness. The owner of the attraction is fully cooperating with authorities and ICON Park is doing everything we can to assist,” the statement said.
In a further statement Friday evening, ICON PARK extended its condolences to Sampson’s family and friends.
“ICON Park is committed to being a place where families can spend quality time together in a safe and fun space,” the statement read. “We are in close coordination and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and regulators.”
In September 2020, a 21-year-old man fell to his death while conducting a safety check on the StarFlyer attraction at ICON Park.
Authorities said Jacob David Kaminsky was climbing the tower when he fell to the bottom platform. Kaminsky was about halfway up the 450-foot ride, dubbed the world’s tallest swing ride, when he fell, officials said.
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