Missouri boy, 14, dies after falling from ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida


A 14-year-old boy visiting from Missouri died Thursday night after falling from an amusement ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, authorities said Friday.

Deputies responded to the Orlando Free Fall attraction at ICON Park just after 11 p.m. Thursday after receiving a 911 call, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

“Witnesses on site reported that someone had fallen from the carousel,” the agency said.

The teenager was taken to Orlando Health’s Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, where he died of his injuries, officials said.

Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina identified the boy at an afternoon news conference as Tire Sampson.

Mina said the investigation is still in its early stages, but no charges have been filed and investigators are trying to determine how the boy died.

“It seems like a terrible tragedy,” the sheriff said. “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. We cannot imagine what they are going through.”

The sheriff’s office will conclusively determine whether Sampson’s death was an accident, according to Mina. The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the agency that will monitor whether ride safety has been compromised, he said.

Based on investigators speaking to witnesses on the ride, park employees and watching videos circulating about the incident, Mina said there was no indication anything was wrong until Sampson don’t fall to death.

A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said its investigation is ongoing and inspectors will be on site Friday. The spokesperson declined to comment further.

Department officials said Friday that the Free Fall ride was first inspected Dec. 20. No abnormalities were found and the ride passed its inspection, officials said. Because Free Fall is a new ride and the agency conducts safety inspections twice a year, no additional inspections had taken place until Thursday evening, officials said.

“Words can’t say how we feel,” said John Stine, director of sales and marketing for the Slingshot Group of Companies, which owns and operates the ride. “Our thoughts are with this young man’s family and that is all we can say at this time.”

An aerial view of ICON Park, in Orlando, Florida.Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty File

Carl Sampson, Tyre’s uncle, said the teenager was in Florida with teammates from his football team. Tire was 6-foot-6 and weighed about 280 pounds in eighth grade, Sampson said.

“He was a really good lad. Really respectable. It was always, ‘No sir. Yes sir. … He had a great future ahead of him. He was very smart.”

Sampson said his nephew was thrilled to be in Florida and was a fan of amusement parks. “It’s hard to believe. He was only 14. It was very tragic that this happened. He was too young.”

Sampson, who lives in St. Louis and is brother to Tyre’s father, said the boy’s parents were unwell.

According to ICON Park websitethe Orlando Free Fall ride, a free-standing drop tower, is supposed to stand 430 feet and can carry up to 30 riders.

“We are operating the ride with all safety precautions in mind,” Stine said, adding that the boy was strapped into a safety harness at the time of the incident.

The ride, which is currently closed, “will open when the time is right,” Stine said.

The park did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Thursday’s tragedy wasn’t the only time someone had died on a ride at ICON Park. On Sept. 14, 2020, 21-year-old laborer Jacob Kaminsky fell more than 200 feet from the StarFlyer attraction while riding the ride to complete a security check, a relative of Kaminsky confirmed Friday. The family member, who asked not to be named, declined to comment further.

A report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said an employee and a co-worker climbed a ladder to the upper level of the ride to perform daily inspections and maintenance tasks.

The co-worker was climbing above the employee on the ladder when he turned to observe the employee as the employee lost his grip and fell. That employee fell about 225 feet and landed on a lower level platform near the ground and was killed, according to OSHA.

StarFlyer is also part of the Slingshot group.

The Orlando Sentinel reported in May that Kaminsky was not properly hooked up to the StarFlyer’s safety device that would have prevented his fall, according to the OSHA investigation which ruled the attraction’s owners should not be penalized since the company has not committed any security breaches.

OSHA representatives could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Jackson Hudgins contributed.


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