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Orlando FreeFall drop tower to be removed at Icon Park

by Matt Roseboom

The Orlando FreeFall drop tower ride at Icon Park in Orlando has been closed since 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was ejected from the ride and fell to his death on March 24, 2022. Now the owners and operators of the 400-foot-tall ride, Orlando Slingshot Group, have decided to take the FreeFall tower down.

In addition to the removal of the tower, the Slingshot Group is also setting up a Scholarship in Tyre Sampson’s name. Details of the scholarship are being developed and further information will be shared in the future after consultation with Tyre’s family.

“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,” said Ritchie Armstrong, with Orlando Slingshot. “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.”

The skyline over Icon Park will change when the Orlando FreeFall tower, right, is taken down.

The timeline for removing the FreeFall drop tower are still being finalized. There’s also no mention if anything will replace it, or the fate of the Slingshot ride next to it, which has also been closed since the incident, although it’s assumed it will reopen after the tower is removed. Orlando Slingshot Group leases the land from Icon Park, who released this statement: “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.”

The teen’s family has an ongoing lawsuit against Orlando Slingshot Group, Icon Park, and the drop tower’s manufacturers and installers. Ben Crump of Ben Crump Law and Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales released the following statement:

“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.”

The Orlando Slingshot Group also operates the Starflyer ride on the other side of the Icon Park complex.

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8 comments

Michelle October 6, 2022 - 9:41 pm

The death was tragic but does mean that anytime someone dies on a ride that it will be closed? Or a foundation is gonna be put in that person’s name? There is many other tragic events that happened and nothing like this was done for them…

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RollerCoasterFan2022 October 7, 2022 - 12:45 pm

I don’t blame the ride I blame the ride operators and those who modified the ride out of its manufacturers specifications. The ride would have been fine to continue operating as long as it was within spec. It’s a shame this happened but all safety technology and regulations are paved through blood.

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CommonSenseIsn’tSoCommon October 7, 2022 - 5:47 pm

Not the operators fault at all. All fault lies in the company. Why? Well it’s obvious that they failed to properly train and stress the vital importance of all the safety feature adjustments to their employees. All assets this company controls should be forfeited to the family.

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kynsie October 7, 2022 - 7:08 pm

but was the ride really the issue? or was it the incompetence of the ride workers who wouldn’t check restraints properly? if it was really the ride, then amazing decision. if it wasn’t then just remove the employees associated. it’s that simple 🤷‍♀️

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Ty October 7, 2022 - 10:18 pm

It’s coming down as it SHOULD!! Period.

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RipTyre October 7, 2022 - 10:33 pm

Not just that tho. The manufacturers specifically altered the ride so that larger people were deemed as OK to ride even tho it was unsafe. The ride cannot be started unless all lights on the dashboard are green. It was changed so that getting a green light happened at a larger (unsafe) harness gap. I don’t blame ride operators for thinking it was okay. They were probably told that if the light is green and the harness is locked, it’s good to go. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

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Scott October 8, 2022 - 7:44 am

The towers should stand it should not be removed it is simply the ride operators fault it has nothing to do with the ride at all people get it through your thick skull are used to operate these rides all the time I know drop towers inside out that tower should’ve never been put in maintenance mode and that kid should’ve never been allowed to ride that ride it is these stupid operators fault he’s shit he needs to be put in jail and charged with manslaughter I stand up for the tower it should stay in Orlando I will be behind the owners of that ride I am for the drop tower

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Linds October 31, 2022 - 3:58 pm

I think the drop tower should stay. The fact that the ride was modified is the obvious cause, not the ride itself. Anyone that understands physics and g forces should have realized that Tyre would weight approximately 1500 pounds when the brakes came on, and that he would slide through the opening easily,. The operator was not very intelligent, but the person who actually did the modification should be jailed for manslaughter. There are other accidents that have happened (Texas Giant for example) that had to do with an operation allowing the ride to go with another obese client who wasn’t properly secured. That ride was closed only two months. This is ridiculous. The death is a tragedy but the kid himself should have had the common sense to realize his harness was not secure. I operated rides for years, with no incidents. Of course, in the 80s common sense was more common.

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