Chicago tourism

Orlando’s free-fall amusement park ride to be taken down after teen’s death

ORLANDO — A towering ride in the central Florida tourist district where a Missouri teenager fell to his death will be dismantled due to the crash, the owner said Thursday.

The decision to remove the 400-foot (122-meter)-plus ride that opened last December in Orlando’s International Drive neighborhood was directly linked to the death of 14-year-old Tire Sampson last March, the official said. owner, Orlando Slingshot, in a statement.

Sampson, who lived near St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting Orlando over spring break when he died of a fall. The company also said it plans to create a scholarship in the teenager’s name.

“We are devastated by Tyr’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tire’s family and the community, and have made the decision to remove the FreeFall,” said Ritchie Armstrong, an Orlando Slingshot manager.

ICON Park attractions The Wheel, left, Orlando SlingShot, middle, and Orlando FreeFall, right, are shown in Orlando, Florida on March 24, 2022. The amusement park where a teenager fell a ride and died earlier this year has paused a new sniper-like laser shooter amid criticism in light of recent mass shootings. In a statement released Saturday, July 16, 2022, park officials said some had questioned whether it was appropriate following mass shootings during a July 4th parade in a suburb of Chicago, an elementary school in Ulvade, Texas and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP, file) [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | AP ]

An autopsy showed Tire Sampson suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries in the fall, which was ruled an accidental death. It showed that Sampson weighed 383 pounds (173 kilograms), well over the driver’s manual weight limit of 287 pounds (130 kilograms).

Related: Did teen’s height contribute to death of Florida ride?

An initial report from outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said the ride’s sensors had been manually adjusted to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, preventing the teenager to be properly secured. The report said there were many other “potential contributions” to the crash and that a full review of the ride’s design and operations was needed.

An Orlando Freefall Tower seat is covered in plastic and duct tape at ICON Park on International Drive in Orlando.
An Orlando Freefall Tower seat is covered in plastic and duct tape at ICON Park on International Drive in Orlando.

[ RICARDO RAMIREZ BUXEDA | Orlando Sentinel ]

Tire Sampson’s family has filed a lawsuit against the ride’s owner, manufacturer and owner, claiming they were negligent and failed to provide a safe ride.

No timeline was given for when the ride will be dismantled.