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Orlando free-fall amusement park ride will be taken down after teen’s death

Orlando Slingshot said it decided to take down the more than 400-foot ride in Orlando’s International Drive district after a teen’s death last March.
In this March 29 photo, family and supporters of Tyre Sampson march and hold signs outside the Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride at ICON Park in Orlando. The towering amusement ride in central Florida's tourism district where Tyre, 14, died when he fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday.
In this March 29 photo, family and supporters of Tyre Sampson march and hold signs outside the Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride at ICON Park in Orlando. The towering amusement ride in central Florida's tourism district where Tyre, 14, died when he fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday. [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | AP ]
Published Oct. 6|Updated Oct. 6

ORLANDO — A towering amusement ride in central Florida’s tourism district where a Missouri teen fell to his death will be taken down because of the accident, the owner said Thursday.

The decision to remove the more than 400-foot (122-meter) ride which opened last December in Orlando’s International Drive district was directly linked to the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson last March, the owner, Orlando Slingshot, said in a statement.

Sampson, who lived near St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting Orlando during spring break when he died from the fall. The company also said it planned to create a scholarship in the teen’s name.

“We are devastated by Tyre’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall,” said Ritchie Armstrong, an official with Orlando Slingshot.

ICON Park attractions, The Wheel, left, Orlando SlingShot, middle, and Orlando FreeFall, right, are shown in Orlando, Fla., on March 24, 2022. The amusement park where a teenager fell from a ride and died earlier this year has paused a new sniper-like laser shooting game amid criticism in light of recent mass shootings. In a statement issued Saturday, July 16, 2022 park officials said some had questioned whether it was appropriate following mass shootings at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb, an elementary school in Ulvade, Texas and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP, file)
ICON Park attractions, The Wheel, left, Orlando SlingShot, middle, and Orlando FreeFall, right, are shown in Orlando, Fla., on March 24, 2022. The amusement park where a teenager fell from a ride and died earlier this year has paused a new sniper-like laser shooting game amid criticism in light of recent mass shootings. In a statement issued Saturday, July 16, 2022 park officials said some had questioned whether it was appropriate following mass shootings at a July 4 parade in a Chicago suburb, an elementary school in Ulvade, Texas and a grocery store in Buffalo, New York. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP, file) [ STEPHEN M. DOWELL | AP ]

An autopsy showed that Tyre Sampson suffered numerous broken bones and internal injuries in the fall, which was ruled an accidental death. It showed Sampson weighed 383 pounds (173 kilograms), well above the ride manual’s weight limit of 287 pounds (130 kilograms).

Related: Did teen’s size factor in Florida amusement ride death?

An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in the teen not being properly secured. The report said there were many other “potential contributions” to the accident and that a full review of the ride’s design and operations was needed.

A seat on the  Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride is covered in plastic and tape at ICON Park on International Drive in Orlando.
A seat on the Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride is covered in plastic and tape at ICON Park on International Drive in Orlando. [ RICARDO RAMIREZ BUXEDA | Orlando Sentinel ]

Tyre Sampson’s family has filed a lawsuit against the owner, manufacturer and landlord of the ride, claiming they were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride.

No timeline was given for when the ride will be taken down.

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