Tragedy At Orlando Park


Brendan Winkel, Staff Writer

On March 24, the 14-year old honor student and aspiring football player Tyre Sampson fell to his death off of a drop tower at ICON park. The ride, called Orlando Freefall, has a seat restraint that comes down from the top and locks over the shoulders of the rider, but only the shoulders. Other drop towers and similar rides have stated that their restraint system comes down, locking the body in place from someone’s upper leg.

The worst part about these restraint differences is that if the latter had been used on Orlando Freefall, Tyre likely never would have fallen, or he would have been removed from the ride for being too large. Since shoulder restraints aren’t necessarily restricted to body size, it would be hard to tell if someone was truly locked in or just looked that way.

Unfortunately, for Sampson, his restraints barely came down at all, making roughly a 45 degree angle with the ground, which is incredibly unsafe, even more so with the vertical power of a drop tower.

Because of this, when the ride did the first drop, when it came to a stop Tyre flew out of the giant gap beneath him and onto the ground due to the Gs. Video footage taken from a nearby security camera reveals that the ride operator checks the restraints by seeing the light above them is red or green for unlocked or locked, instead of checking to see if the riders are too large or small for the tower.

A lot of people blame the rider operator for Sampson’s death for this reason, but others blame the park for having a dumb policy to check the restraints.

Sampson’s death is a tragedy for sure, as he had a bright future ahead of him.

Photo Credit: Fox 35 Orlando