Rollercoaster that 400lb 14-year-old fell to his death from to be torn down

A rollercoaster that a 400lb, 14-year-old fell to his death from in March is set to be torn down, the ride's operator said yesterday (Thursday, 6).

The decision to take down the 430-foot-tall Orlando FreeFall tower and ride at ICON Park outside Orlando was made because of Tyre Sampson’s March 24 death, the operator said in an online statement.

Originally described by its operators as the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower, the ride, which had opened only months before Tyre’s death, has been closed since.

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Tyre’s family had called for the ride to be taken down, and filed a still-pending wrongful death lawsuit against several entities including the park, the ride’s operator and the ride’s manufacturer.

The timeline for taking down the ride “will be determined by the approvals of all involved parties and regulatory entities,” the statement reads.

Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, said he was having a “happy cry” upon learning the ride will come down.

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“It’s an emotional day. I am having a happy cry right now,” Yarnell Sampson told CNN Thursday.

“It’s a little piece of justice for my son.”

“But the mission doesn’t stop. This is just part of the cause. A young man lost his life,” he added.

Two attorneys representing Yarnell Sampson, from Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard, said that “while this announcement is long overdue, the news today is a relief to Tyre Sampson’s grieving father, who has been advocating for this since the day Tyre fell to his death."

“The Orlando FreeFall ride never should have been permitted to operate under those faulty conditions.

"Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family."

In the online statement, an official with the ride operator, Orlando Slingshot, said “we are devastated by Tyre’s death.”

“We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall."

Tyre Sampson from Missouri, USA, who was nearly 100 pounds too heavy for the 430ft ride, slipped out of his seat and fell to his death in Florida on March 24.

Emergency services rushed to the scene at the ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, after he plummeted from the roller coaster at around 11pm.

The teen was on vacation with his friend's family when the ride dropped at 75mph at the popular attraction.

Bystander video that circulated on social media shows Tyre falling from his seat about five seconds after the ride begins its drop.

Tyre had slipped out of his seat feet-first because he “was not properly secured in the seat,” according to an initial report in April by a forensic engineering firm commissioned by Florida officials to investigate.

That happened, the firm found, because of a manual “mis-adjustment” of a sensor on the seat Tyre occupied.

The ride’s operations and maintenance manual, posted online by state officials, indicated the maximum passenger weight should be 130 kilograms (approximately 287 pounds). Tyre, just over 6 feet tall, weighed 383 pounds, according to his autopsy.

Speaking around the time of the incident Yarnell described his son as a top student, who played for the number one youth football team in the country, loved to do magic, and was a talented rapper.

"Everything was lining up for him to be great," he said.


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