Calls for action from family of boy who died riding FreeFall gain support from community, lawmaker

ORLANDO, Fla. — A call for action continues from the community, a lawmaker and the family of Tyre Sampson after the 14-year-old fell to his death last Thursday after riding Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park.


Yellow tape had previously surrounded the ride. As of Tuesday morning, staff had fenced it off completely and put a tarp over it so no one could see the seats or harnesses.

Sampson’s family said that’s not enough. They’ve been coming back to the FreeFall ride ever since Sampson fell to his death.

READ: Report reveals that teen who died after fall from drop tower was over weight, size limit for ride

His cousin, Shay Johnson, is on a mission to get 5,000 signatures of support and convince leaders that the ride is too unsafe to stay at ICON Park.

Johnson said she planned to go on the FreeFall ride with her cousin, but had to work that day. Instead, she’s been returning to the ride every day since, gathering signatures to get the ride taken down.

“(What) I don’t want to happen is, someone getting on the ride saying, ‘Oh, this the seat that the young man died in, this is the seat that the young man fell out of,’” Jackson said. “I don’t want that because that is a hurtful feeling to the family that we have to see that.”

READ: ‘Shut this whole thing down’: Tyre Sampson’s family calls for FreeFall’s demolition, statue be built

Documents released showed there is a recommended weight limit of about 286 pounds. Sampson’s father said he weighed about 330 pounds.

A state law says signs should be posted at the ride entrance about size and weight restrictions, but the sign outside the ride only mentions height.

READ: ICON Park calls for FreeFall, SlingShot rides to suspend operations following teen’s death

In a statement, SlingShot CEO Ritchie Armstrong gave condolences to the family and said the company is cooperating with investigators.

“We are heartbroken by the loss of Tyre Sampson and absolutely devastated for his family and loved ones. We have suspended the operations of the Free Fall ride and the Slingshot ride at Icon Park. We are fully cooperating with the authorities at the state and local levels who are investigating this tragic incident. We plan on providing additional information in the coming days, as we learn more,” the statement said.

PHOTOS: ICON Park vigil for Tyre Sampson

Sen. Randolph Bracy hopes to push for a new law this upcoming special session to standardize safety measures on rides.

He also sent a letter to the Department of Agriculture, asking them to take the ride down.

Commissioner Nikki Fried’s office said it is not commenting further at this time since the investigation is ongoing.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.