A 14-year-old perished late yesterday after falling from the Orlando Free Fall attraction in International Drive's ICON Park.
The 430-foot drop ride opened in December, billed as the world's tallest free-standing tower drop ride. ICON Park also is home to The Wheel at ICON Park, the 400-foot observation wheel that's the main landmark between Universal and Disney off Interstate 4.
The boy, whom local law enforcement identified as Tyre Sampson of Missouri, apparently slipped from his seat on the ride after its main drop. Riders' seats tilt forward 30 degrees at the top of the tower before dropping to a point about 45 feet off the ground, from which the seats descend slowly back to the load platform. According to eyewitness video reviewed by a local TV station, that is the point where Sampson slipped from his seat.
The Funtime ride uses over-the-shoulder safety restraints.
An investigation is underway. Slingshot Group, which operated the Orlando Free Fall attraction, issued this statement: "We are heartbroken with 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."
The Orange County Sheriff's office provided the following details, "On March 24, 2022 at 11:12 p.m., deputies responded to 8433 International Drive (Orlando Free Fall) for a 911 emergency. Witnesses on scene reported that someone had fallen from the ride. A 14-year-old male was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries. This death investigation is in its very early stages."
Update: An NBC News report quotes the Sampson' uncle saying that the 14-year-old was visiting Orlando with his football team and that he "stood 6-feet-6 and weighed about 280 pounds." That certainly raises questions about maximum size effectiveness for safety restraints.
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