Teen who fell to his death at theme park was 100 pounds too heavy for ride

The father of a 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from the Orlando Freefall ride in March has demanded the "death trap" be permanently shut down.

Tyre Sampson from Missouri, USA, who was nearly 100 pounds too heavy for the 430ft ride, slipped out of his seat and fell to his death in Florida on Thursday (March 24).

Emergency services rushed to the scene at the ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, after he plummeted from the roller coaster at around 11pm.

The teen was on vacation with his friend's family when the ride dropped at 75mph at the popular attraction.

Tyre's father Yarnell Sampson, whose goal is to get 25,000 signatures on a petition to get the 430-foot drop tower 'death trap' taken down permanently, has filed a lawsuit against several companies, including the ride's operators and ICON Park in wake of his son's death.

He also said he wanted a public apology from Slingshot Group, the owner of the ride, and a permanent memorial.

Yarnell told reporters at a Monday morning news conference: "Me and my son's mother deserve a public apology, stating that ‘we made mistakes, we’re sorry, we can change some things, and maybe we can work with you going forward.' – I've gotten none of those things.

"So I'm looking forward to that public apology."

Yarnell added: "With my wishes, I would like to have a permanent memorial out here for my son, stating that he passed away and that his legacy will live on."

"This year is the first time I didn't have a birthday party set up for myself, so this is my celebration to be with my son.

"To respect his wishes, to keep this justice thing going, and to get this thing going toward the right direction as far as change."

An autopsy, which was conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner, last week concluded that the boy's cause of death was the result of blunt force trauma and the manner of death was "accident."

The report also revealed that, at 383 pounds, Sampson weighed nearly 100 pounds more than the maximum passenger weight for the ride, which was reported and widely speculated after the March fall.

Attorney Ben Crump, who joined Yarnell at the news conference, said: "Tyre was too big to have been on the ride.

"The weight limit was 286 pounds, but they did not follow their own restrictions."

"To Slingshot Group, to ICON Park executives, you all cannot simply sweep this under the rug as if Tyre Sampson's death doesn't matter."

An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also found that sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in Sampson not being properly secured.

In the aftermath, Yarnell said on Monday, park officials vowed to put up a memorial for Tyre at the site – but when he returned to the park this weekend, he noticed the memorial that was there was taken down, and the park was hosting a festival at the site.

Yarnell described his son as a top student, who played for the number one youth football team in the country, loved to do magic and was a talented rapper.

'Everything was lining up for him to be great,' he said.

'Plus he has talent. He could rap. He was a magician. He had a lot of other things besides football going for him, so why doesn't his life matter?'

Meanwhile, the ride has remained closed since the incident as the investigation continues.

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In a statement, the manufacturer of the Free Fall ride at ICON Park, the Orlando Slingshot Group, said: 'We support the concepts outlined today in Florida Sen. Geraldine Thompson's "Tyre Sampson Bill."

'The safety of our patrons always comes first.'

The group, though, denied her allegations that it has applied for a permit to open a second ride at the park, saying: 'Our company is not planning to open a new ride at ICON Park, however, we do hope to reopen the Slingshot ride once we have all the necessary approvals from the Department of Agriculture.

'Also, we have been coordinating with representatives of Tyre's family to return items from the memorial area to them, and we will continue to do so in the future.'

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