Search icon


30th Mar 2022

Family of teen who fell to death at theme park says he was too heavy for ride

Danny Jones

Tyre Sampson death after falling off ride

There are also conflicting reports as to whether his safety harness was fully locked

The family of Tyre Sampson, the teenager who fell his death at a Florida theme park, has revealed that the 14-year-old was “too big” for the ride and was turned away from two other attractions beforehand.

Sampson of St. Louis, Missouri, died in tragic circumstances on March 24 after he fell from his seat on the Orlando FreeFall ride at the ICON Park in Florida, manufactured by the SlingShot group.

Speaking to an NBC News affiliate outlet, Sampson’s cousin Shay Johnson spoke of how the teen wanted to try out the swing and the SlingShot rides but was told “he was too big for that”, questioning why “[park staff] did not let him get on those two, but y’all let him get on that one, being overweight.”

Sampson is said to have been six feet five inches tall and weighed around 340 pounds – more than 50 pounds over the maximum individual rider weight limit of 286.6 pounds stated in the ride’s operation manual.

Local officials are currently investigating how and why Sampson was allowed on to the ride, as well as whether his seat was properly secured by staff before the ride began to rise into the air.

Despite initial reports that Sampson’s safety harness was not properly secured before the ride began – including a 911 call from a witness who claims to have seen staff failing to carry out proper safety procedures – a state accident report suggested that the “harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped.”

The family’s lawyer, Bob Hilliard, told local outlet WFTV claims the family is in possession of a video they are only sharing with law enforcement that proves the ride wasn’t safe, as it “shows the light under his seat goes off, which shows he’s not secured”.

Sampson was in Orlando attending a football camp over spring break and was described by friends, family and his coaches as a “gentle giant” with a “bright future taken away from him”.


Related links: