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Orlando Slingshot will take down amusement park ride after 14-year-old’s death

Close up view of the Orlando Free Fall at ICON Park on Friday, March 25, 2022 in Orlando, Florida A 14-year-old boy fell to his death from the ride on March 24. (Willie J. Allen Jr. /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Orlando Slingshot announced on Thursday it will take down the FreeFall ride in Florida, citing the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell off the 430-foot drop tower attraction in the spring.

In a news release, Orlando Slingshot said further details, including a timeline for when the amusement ride in Orlando, Fla., would be torn down, are forthcoming.

Ritchie Armstrong, the owner of Slingshot Group, which owns three rides at the park including the FreeFall, said his company was “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,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name.” 

Sampson, of Missouri, was visiting the Florida park with his football teammates in March. He died after slipping through his harness and falling from the amusement ride in March.

An investigation in April revealed Sampson was not secured properly in the seat and slipped through an expanded gap.

ICON Park, the landowners where the ride is based, had pushed for the ride to be suspended in the wake of Sampson’s death.

The park said in a statement Thursday that “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 park said.

Sampson’s family filed a lawsuit in April against Slingshot Group and several other defendants.

National civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said the “announcement is long overdue” but 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,” Crump said in a statement. “Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family.”

Updated at 4:25 p.m.

Tags Ben Crump Florida ICON Park ICOn Park Orlando Orlando Slingshot Ritchie Armstrong Slingshot Group Tyre Sampson Tyre Sampson
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