Florida drop tower will be taken down after teenager’s death

Oct 5, 2022, 10:23 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 2:08 pm
FILE - Family and supporters of Tyre Sampson march and hold signs outside the Orlando Free Fall dro...

FILE - Family and supporters of Tyre Sampson march and hold signs outside the Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride at ICON Park in Orlando on March 29, 2022. A towering amusement ride in central Florida's tourism district where Tyre, 14, died when he fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A towering amusement ride in central Florida’s tourism district where a Missouri teen fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday.

The decision to remove the more than 400-foot (122-meter) ride which opened last December in Orlando’s International Drive district was directly linked to the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson last March, the owner, Orlando Slingshot, said in a statement.

Sampson, who lived near St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting Orlando during spring break when he died from the fall. The company also said it planned to create a scholarship in the teenager’s name.

“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,” said Ritchie Armstrong, an official with Orlando Slingshot.

An autopsy showed that Tyre Sampson suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries in the fall, which was ruled an accidental death. It showed Sampson weighed 383 pounds (173 kilograms), well above the ride manual’s weight limit of 287 pounds (130 kilograms).

An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in the teen not being properly secured. The report said there were many other “potential contributions” to the accident and that a full review of the ride’s design and operations was needed.

Tyre Sampson’s family has filed a lawsuit against the owner, manufacturer and landlord of the ride, claiming they were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride.

“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,” Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard, attorneys for Sampson’s father, said in a statement.

No timeline was given for when the ride will be taken down.

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Florida drop tower will be taken down after teenager’s death