Orlando FreeFall ride that took life of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson to be be torn down, announces operator
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: The Orlando amusement ride that took the life of Tyre Sampson who fell to his death from the drop tower is officially going to be torn down. The ride operator made the announcement on October 6, Thursday, seven months after the tragic incident.
According to the accident report released shortly after the tragic accident, it was revealed that Sampson died because he "came out" of his seat as the ride descended. The report went on to note that Sampson's "harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped." He died of "multiple injuries and trauma," per the report.
"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," Ritchie Armstrong, an official with Orlando Slingshot, said in his statement. "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," he added
Sampson's family will be consulted as details about the scholarship are still being finalized, the company stated. FreeFall will be removed after all parties have approved its removal, according to the report obtained by People. ICON Park also released a separate statement in support of the decision to take down the ride.
The ride, which opened just months before Tyre's death, has been closed since his passing. In addition to demanding the ride be removed from the park, Tyre's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the park, the ride operator, and the manufacturer of the ride.
Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, said he was having a “happy cry” upon learning the ride will come down. “It’s an emotional day. I am having a happy cry right now,” Yarnell Sampson told CNN on Thursday. “It’s a little piece of justice for my son.”
“But the mission doesn’t stop. This is just part of the cause. A young man lost his life,” he added. Two attorneys representing Yarnell Sampson said that “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.”"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," attorneys representing the boy's father told the outlet. "The Orlando FreeFall 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."
According to Sampson's father, he learned about his son's death from a video shared on social media.
"It felt like somebody hit me so hard in my stomach," he told NBC affiliate WESH. "I just lost, I lost, lost wind. And the pain behind it could never be taken away, and sorry's not gonna take it back."
"And it's just sad, a young man's bright future was taken away from him over a ride, an amusement park," he added.
In an interview with Orlando TV station WKMG, Sampson's youth football coach AJ Jones said the offensive lineman was a straight-A student who was headed to East St. Louis High School.
He called Sampson a "humble giant," who was 6 feet and 5 inches tall.