Tire Sampson fell Thursday from the Orlando FreeFall drop tower, which takes riders to the top and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour, according to ICON Park, where the incident occurred.
Shay Johnson spoke to 14-year-old Tire over the phone just before he climbed the FreeFall drop tower at the park, she told CNN affiliate Spectrum News 13.
Johnson dropped Tire off at the park, she said, and he told her he wanted to ride the swing. “I said ‘OK. Ride it twice and ride it for me too,'” Johnson said.
“He called me back about 7 minutes later. He said, ‘They said I was too big. I can’t ride,'” Johnson said in an interview with Spectrum News 13.
Tire’s father, Yarnell Sampson, has also raised questions about his son’s height, telling CNN on Friday, “My son was 6ft 5, 340. So he’s a big guy.”
Johnson said she told Tire to try another ride, the SlingShot, but was also told it was too big. He told her there was one more ride he would try.
It was the Orlando FreeFall. “He called me and said, ‘They let me ride. i can ride I can ride,’” she recalled him telling her before he got on.
“Little did I know it would be the last time I spoke to him alive. He just wanted to ride and have a good time,” she said.
The ride’s operations and maintenance manual, posted online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, states that the maximum passenger weight is 130 kilograms (about 287 pounds).
“Be careful when checking if tall guests fit in the seats. Check that they fit into the contours of the seat and that the bracket is properly seated. If they don’t – don’t let that person ride,” the manual reads.
CNN has reached out to ride operator Slingshot Group to ask if the tire fits properly and if he was denied boarding the other ride the group operates because of his size.
It’s not clear if the seat fits the teenager properly
Reifen’s seat was locked when the ride landed, according to an accident report from CNN.
“The harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride was stopped,” said the report, which the operator filed with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Fair Ride Division.
The tire came off the seat as the magnets engaged to slow the ride during the descent, according to the report, which was based on ride-crew witnesses and obtained by CNN.
The report names three witnesses, all listed as employees.
It’s not clear if the tire fits the contours of the seat or if the bracket fits properly.
A video circulating on social media purporting to show the incident at ICON Park shows a person falling out of their seat about five seconds into the ride’s fall, perhaps about two-thirds of the way down as the ride slowed, as she neared the ground.
The FreeFall ride is closed while the accident is investigated. And on Tuesday, the Slingshot Group said it had discontinued another of its rides, the SlingShot.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of Tire Sampson and absolutely devastated for his family and loved ones,” the group said in a statement.
“We have suspended operations of the FreeFall ride and Slingshot ride at Icon Park. We are fully cooperating with the state and local authorities who are investigating this tragic incident. We plan to provide more information in the coming days as we learn more,” the statement said.
ICON Park said on Monday it had requested that the Slingshot Group suspend them both “until a thorough investigation by the relevant authorities has been completed and all parties are satisfied the rides are safe for the public”.
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https://abc13.com/florida-ride-death-14-year-old-dies-icon-park-tyre-sampson-fall/11696140/ Florida driving accident: A 14-year-old who fell to his death at ICON Park in Orlando told his cousin he was turned away from other rides