Team investigating 14-year-old’s death on free-fall ride speaks out

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — State leaders investigating the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who died after he fell from a free-fall ride at Icon Park, held a news conference on Friday morning.


Nikki Fried, the commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, said there is still a lot we don’t know about the investigation.

Fried said investigators aren’t going to jump to any conclusions about the accident until the investigation is complete.

READ: Woman claiming to be related to boy who fell from ride has no ties to family, investigation shows

Fried said state leaders have hired a team of forensic engineers from Quest Engineering and Failure Analysis.

The engineers are experts who previously worked with her office during the sandblaster accident in Daytona Beach in 2018.

Fried said that based on the teams findings, state leaders will decide if they need to make changes to the rules under their existing authorities.

“We are pulling back lots of layers here and we are not going to jump to any conclusions until the facts are known and the information is provided to us because that would not be fair to the family,” Fried said.

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

Rep. Geraldine Thompson told Channel 9 that she is working on legislation to address any problems identified and will call it the “Tyre Sampson bill.”

A vigil was held last night in Missouri, where the teen was from.

“As a mother, it hurts. As a football family, it hurts. So I stand with the mother. I stand with the family. It’s a loss for all of us,” said Victoria Smith.

READ: Boy, 14, dies after falling from FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services conducted an initial inspection of the ride in December and found no deficiencies.

The accident report said the ride did not malfunction and the teen was over the weight limit.

ICON Park released the following statement:

“We commend the diligence and thoroughness that Commissioner Fried and the team at the Florida Department of Agriculture have shown as they investigate the operation of the Slingshot Group’s Orlando FreeFall ride.

“ICON Park looks forward to working with elected officials, regulators, and the amusement industry to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.

“As the landlord at ICON Park, our mission is to provide safe family entertainment. We rely on our tenants to be experts at what they do.

“In the interests of public safety, ICON Park has demanded that the SlingShot Group suspend not only the operation of Orlando FreeFall, but also the operation of Orlando SlingShot.”

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