ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — More details have emerged about the death of a St. Louis County teen who fell from a Florida amusement park ride that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Investigators revealed on Friday that 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, of Berkeley, was visiting Orlando’s Icon Park with a friend’s family. Tyre fell off the FreeFall drop tower ride while it was in motion.
The teen’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told FOX 35 Orlando that his son knew something was wrong on the ride.
“When the ride took off, that’s when he was feeling uncomfortable,” the dad said. “He was like, ‘What’s going on?’ That’s when he started freaking out. He was explaining to his friend next to him, ‘I don’t know man. If I don’t make it down please tell my mom and daddy I love them.’ For him to say something like that, he must’ve felt something.'”
Tyre was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds. His father said Tyre wasn’t allowed to get on other rides.
“This one particular ride said we can take you, come on, get on,” said Sampson. “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.”
The 14-year-old was pronounced dead at the hospital. His family wants the ride shut down. Tyre’s cousin launched a petition hoping to do just that.
“My cousin lost his life over this ride,” said Shay Johson. “I don’t feel like it was safe. I feel like it needs to be shut down before someone else family has to go through what we are going through.”
High-profile attorneys Benjamin Crump and Bob Hilliard will represent the family.
“He absolutely would’ve accepted if this ride would’ve said respectfully to him, ‘We’re sorry, but you can’t ride it,'” said Hillard. “You know, he would be home right now getting ready for football practice, and that’s their responsibility.”
Tyre attended City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis. He planned to play football at East St. Louis High School next school year. The eighth-grader also participated in the Bad Boyz, a nationally-ranked youth program based out of St. Louis.
Arnaud Jones recently coached Tyre. He said the teen had a bright future, was an honor-roll student and dreamed of playing in the NFL.
“He was an eighth-grade lineman,” said Jones. “He had the chance to go to any high school. I think he had the potential to go anywhere. Not only was he talented, but he was also a smart kid.”