ORLANDO – The Orlando theme park ride St. Louis teen Tyre Sampson fell to his death from will be torn down. Orlando Slingshot announced Thursday that the 430-foot-tall FreeFall ride will be taken down. It is unknown at this time when that process will begin.
An autopsy showed 14-year-old Sampson died of blunt-force trauma. He fell 70 feet from the ride on March 24. The medical examiner in Orlando, Florida ruled the death was accidental. Sampson’s family filed a wrongful death suit against the theme park and the ride manufacturer.
“We are devastated by Tyre’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall,” Ritchie Armstrong with Orlando Slingshot said. “In addition, Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name.”
“Tyre’s death is a tragedy that we will never forget. As the landlord, ICON Park welcomes and appreciates Orlando Slingshot’s decision to take down the ride,” said ICON Park.
The scholarship details are still in progress.
“A $22 seatbelt would have saved my son’s life,” Yarnell Sampson, Tyre’s father said at a news conference in June.
Tyre Sampson’s father’s Attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard released this statement after the announcement:
“While this announcement is long overdue, the news today is a relief to Tyre Sampson’s grieving father, who has been advocating for this since the day Tyre fell to his death. The Orlando Free Fall ride never should have been permitted to operate under those faulty conditions. Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family.”
Kimberly Wald is a trial attorney with The Haggard Law Firm. The firm represents Tyre’s mother, Nekia Dodd.
“She wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Wald said. “Having this ride shut down is extremely, extremely important to her.”
Wald said the news is also forcing her client to relive the nightmare of losing her son.
“We need to make sure that these amusement park rides, they can’t get away with this,” Wald said. “You can’t just manipulate these rides and make it so unsafe and deadly that a tragedy like this occurs.”