Petition started to permanently close fatal Orlando free-fall ride after teen’s death

Tyre Sampson, 14, died after falling from the ride halfway through its 430ft descent

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Monday 28 March 2022 16:50 BST
Tyre Sampson's family wants free fall ride to close for good

The family of the teenage boy who fell to his death at an amusement park attraction in Florida wants the ride closed permanently following the tragedy.

Tyre Sampson, 14, of St Louis died when he fell from the free-fall ride at ICON Park in Orlando.

The ride was about halfway down its 430ft descent when Tyre plummeted to the ground on Thursday night. He was rushed to a hospital but died from his injuries.

The ride is currently closed while state inspectors investigate what happened, but Shay Johnson, Tyre’s cousin, has now started a petition for its permanent closure.

“I would like this ride to be taken down,” Ms Johnson told Fox 35 Orlando. “My cousin lost his life over this ride. I don’t feel it’s safe, and feel it should be shut down before someone else’s family have to go through what we are going through.”

People visiting a memorial to Tyre were keen to sign the petition on Sunday, generating pages of signatures.

“This ride needs to go,” said Ashanti, who signed the petition.

“It’s not fair for anyone to come and ride this ride. It’s not fair.”

Isaiah Edwards, a TikTok content creator, who also signed the petition on Sunday while visiting the memorial, said he hopes that Tyre’s parents know they have the support of the community in Orlando.

“We have kids ourselves, so this is someone’s child when it comes down to it. And any type of sympathetic feeling that you have as a human being you will try to come down here,” he said.

“As a role model in the TikTok industry, I feel like that’s what we can do. Show our support and help the family,” he added.

A community balloon release for Tyre is planned for Monday evening at 6pm in front of the ride.

Tyre was in Orlando as part of a football programme when he visited the ICON Park with friends.

The teenager boarded the ride with two friends but began to feel uneasy as the ride was climbing to its highest point.

Speaking days after his death, his father Yarnell Sampson told Fox 35 that Tyre “was panicking as he was going up”.

“When the ride took off, that’s when he was feeling uncomfortable,” he said.

The teenager began “freaking out” and asking what was going on, before telling his friends: “I don’t know man, if I don’t make it down, please tell mom and daddy I loved them.”

Mr Sampson questioned why his 6ft 5in son was allowed on the ride and asked for answers as to why it went ahead.

He said: “This one particular ride said ‘we can take you, come on, get on’. No one else allowed him to get on the ride, so I’m wondering what happened between now and then that made them say ‘come on, get on this ride’.

“This should never happen to anyone’s child ever again, and if I have anything to do with this, it will not happen ever again.”

Tyre was an honour-roll student with a bright future ahead of him and had hopes of playing in the NFL, according to his family.

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