Teenager dies after falling from drop tower at Florida’s ICON Park
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy died late at night during an amusement park ride plummeting higher than the Statue of Liberty along a busy street in the heart of the neighborhood Orlando tourist.
Sheriff’s officials and emergency crews responded to a call Thursday night at the Orlando Free Fall ride, which opened late last year at ICON Park on the city’s International Drive.
The teenager was identified Friday as Tire Sampson, who was visiting central Florida from Missouri with a friend’s family. Detectives investigating the death will determine if it was intentional or accidental, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.
“It seems like just a terrible tragedy,” Mina said. “We will see in the future what that gives.”
Sampson was taken to the hospital, where he died, sheriff’s officials said. No further details about the teenager or the incident were immediately released.
A video broadcast by NBC’s “Today” show on Friday morning appears to show passengers on the ride discussing issues with a seat restraint on Thursday night. The ride then began its trek up the tower before someone was later seen falling off the ride.
“We are absolutely saddened and devastated by what happened, and our hearts go out to the family of this young man,” John Stine, sales manager for the Slingshot Group, owner of the ride, told The Associated Press on Friday morning. .
The Free Fall ride and an adjacent ride, the Sling Shot, have been closed indefinitely, Stine said. His company operates the two rides at ICON Park.
“We are cooperating with all other investigations at this time to get to the bottom of what happened,” Stine said.
Stine said no issues had been previously reported with the Free Fall ride, which opened last December.
Employees and witnesses interviewed by detectives reported no problems beforehand.
“Everything seemed fine and normal,” Mina said.
The Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees ride inspections except for the state’s largest theme parks, launched an investigation and inspectors visited the site on Friday, the gate said. call Caroline Stoneciper in an email.
The ride is 131 meters tall and billed as the tallest freestanding drop tower in the world, according to the park’s website.
The ride seats 30 passengers as it soars into the air, spins around the tower and then tilts to face the ground before plummeting at more than 75 mph (120 km/h), according to the website .
The ride has restraint harnesses over the shoulder, with two handles at chest level, which riders pull down and then automatically release at the end of the ride.
In 2021, a maintenance technician who was not properly hooked up to a safety device plunged 225 feet (68.5 meters) to his death on a nearby park ride, the StarFlyer Swing Ride. 450 feet high (137 kilometers high). .