Students and staff voice their opinions on Tyre Sampson’s fall at ICON Park in Orlando


Tribune News Service

A memorial for Tyre Sampson was held at the free fall ride in Orlando, Florida. Sampson was rushed to the hospital on March 24 after a fall and passed away from his injuries. Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Lyla Sachs, Arts & Leisure editor

Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old boy, died after falling from his seat on a rollercoaster on March 24, 2022 at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida.

The ride was the Orlando Free Fall tower drop, which takes passengers 430 feet up and drops the cart at 75 miles per hour. Reports filed on the tragedy say that the harness that was supposed to keep Sampson in his seat was locked and in place when the ride came back to the ground.

Moreover, a video circulating on various social media platforms shows the incident happening. In the video, viewers can see an individual fall from their seat as the ride drops from the top of the tower down towards the ground.

Many MSD students and staff feel that safety on such a dangerous ride should be the park’s first priority above all else. Suggestions to ensure safety includes seats being double-checked and rides being inspected to make sure no similar incident happens again.

“I think that it was an accident that could have been avoided if all rides were up to safety codes,” freshman Blake Backman said.

One of the biggest questions people have is why Sampson was allowed on the ride in the first place when he exceeded the weight limit. He was 6’5’’ tall and over 300 pound; the limit for the ride was 285 pounds.

The manual for operations and maintenance states: “Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so — do not let this person ride.”

“[Amusement parks] have the required lines and restrictions for a reason and if they thought he would have exceeded the weight limit, it is their responsibility to put his safety first,” English teacher Lauren Rower said.

This incident has affected the credibility of the park and how people feel about it. Not only did someone have a fatal fall from a ride, it was not the first time it has happened. In 2021, a maintenance worker fell to their death from a ride called the StarFlyer swing ride. Both of these instances can both tarnish the reputation of the park and repel the customers away.

“I don’t feel comfortable going [to ICON park] because if it happens again, it could be me or someone I love that gets hurt,” senior Amara Arida said.

As well as the Free Fall, the SlingShot ride is also being shut down temporarily. Both of these rides are owned and manufactured by the company SlingShot Group. ICON Park is demanding that the rides be inspected until they are proven safe to ride by the authorities.

The ride is being investigated by the police and the Florida Department of Agriculture and
Consumer Services (FDACS). The ride has also been suspended and until the exact cause of the accident is found, it will not be reopened.