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

ORLANDO, Fla. — The contrasts between the cries of emotion and a balloon-bearing dancing heart did not overshadow the message repeated again and again by family, friends and supporters of Tyre Sampson: Icon Park should tear down Orlando FreeFall


“God, we pray that you shut this whole thing down,” a minister preached, raising her palms to the sky as the red metallic tower loomed behind her.

Thursday night, Sampson, a 14-year-old football player from Missouri, slipped from his seat an fell dozens of feet from the ride and died after the ride’s nearly 340-foot drop.

PHOTOS: ICON Park vigil for Tyre Sampson

An accident report released Monday showed the ride was in good working order, but Sampson was around 60 pounds heavier than the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer.

Additionally, the manufacturer’s guidelines warned passengers who didn’t fit in the seat or harness should not ride the attraction.

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

Sampson’s cousin, Shay Johnson, said attendants at other rides in the park had turned him away that night.

“You told him he couldn’t get on the swing. You told me he couldn’t get on the slingshot,” she said. “So, why did you allow him to get on this if he was overweight?”

She and other family members want the ride replaced by a statue of Sampson wearing his football uniform, or the uniform of the Miami Dolphins, his favorite team.

READ: Dollywood closes drop ride after deadly incident on similar attraction at Orlando’s ICON Park

Then, they invited strangers like Ricky Martinez, an Orange County resident, to share their thoughts.

“It’s been open for three, four months only, and this has happened already, so they could’ve prevented this,” he said. “I hope they get everything that’s coming toward them.”

READ: Family of teen killed during free fall ride at ICON Park retains high-profile attorneys

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