he father of a teenager who died after plunging from a theme park ride in Florida has said that his son became aware that his harness was unsecure as soon as the ride began.
Tyre Sampson, 14, was taken to hospital where he died after falling from the Orlando Free Fall, a 430ft structure dubbed the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower.
His father Yarnell has now suggested that the teen grew visibly distressed as soon as the ride began.
“When the ride took off, that’s when he was feeling uncomfortable. He was like ‘this thing is moving,’ you know what I’m saying. And he was like ‘what’s going on?’’ Sampson told WOFL-TV.
He said that Tyre began to panic and told his friends to tell to tell his parents that he loved them if he failed to make it off the ride safely.
“That’s when he started freaking out. And he was explaining to his friends, next to him, ‘I don’t know man, if I don’t make it down, safely, can you please tell my mamma and daddy that I love them,’’ said Sampson.
“For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”
Tyre, a student athlete who was 6 ft 5 and weighed 340 pounds, had been allowed on Free Fall despite other rides at the park refusing to let him on.
“This particular ride decided, ‘Yeah, we can take you, get on,’ when nobody else would allow him to get on the rides,” said Sampson.
The Free Fall ride opened on December 28 last year. The 430ft tall structure carries people 40 storeys up into the Orlando sky, after a brief pause, riders then take a white-knuckle free fall at 75 mph.
ICON Park is also home to the Orlando Slingshot – the tallest slingshot ride in the world.