Tragedy at Orlando’s ICON Park

Millions of Florida residents know the misfortune of 14-year old Tyre Sampson’s death at ICON Park’s Free Fall ride in Orlando on March 24th, 2022. Our readers may recognize the infamous picture below, a still frame from a video uploaded by a parkgoer trying to record one of his friends on the ride. He didn’t realize at the moment, however, that he had captured Tyre Sampson’s fall from the 430-foot tower drop ride.

Seconds after his death, ambulances were called in and the workers of the park began their interrogation of the employee in charge of the ride, asking if they had checked to see that Tyre was secure or if they’d done all of the proper procedures. A tragedy that was so preventable has now sparked an investigation into Tyre’s killing. According to ride workers, the weight limit for the Free Fall ride is 287 pounds. At 6 feet, five inches tall Tyre Sampson who weighed over 300 pounds couldn’t have been supported by the ride. Attorneys hired by Tyre’s family questioned why the ride has a metal detector that checks for phones but not something that weighs guests; shouldn’t a person’s life be looked out for greater than a smartphone?

The ride has remained closed since the disaster. Some Florida residents are petitioning to have the ride closed down permanently. However, an Apopka High School student, Junior Jackson Meyerer, says that he thinks the company can learn from it and make it much safer. “I think ICON makes up part of Orlando’s impression of a theme park attraction,” he says. One woman petitioning, claiming to be Tyre’s cousin Shay Johnson, stated that she spoke with him on the day he died. She did interviews with multiple news stations but soon was called out for lying about being Tyre’s relative. By that point sadly, she had already fooled thousands and had lots of false information to news websites.

Who was the boy who fell off the Free Fall ride? Known as “Big Tick” by his friends, Tyre Sampson was a football player on the Bad Boyz Football Team. He was known for his sense of humor and his unmistakable size 17 shoes. A memorial in front of the Free Fall ride has been established for Tyre Sampson. It’s full of footballs, balloons, and sweet pictures of him. On April 1st, there was a peaceful protest to have the ride taken down permanently.

The best thing we can hope for is that Tyre Sampson’s tragic death can lead to national change in how rides are checked for safety so future disasters like this can be avoided. Whether the ride gets closed permanently or not, this should be a lesson to the companies in charge of small theme parks like ICON to let nothing like this happen again. May Big Tick rest in everlasting peace.