ORLANDO - The owners of ICON Park in Orlando have sent a letter to SlingShot Group, the company behind two attractions there – Orlando FreeFall and Orlando Slingshot -- to immediately shut down their rides until they can verify that both attractions are safe.
Last week, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson died after he fell out of the restraints while on Orlando FreeFall, a drop tower ride that takes people 400 feet into the air and drops them at speeds upwards of 75 miles per hour. The tragic incident was caught on video, which has since gone viral on social media.
"We rely on our tenants to be experts at what they do. In the interests of public safety, ICON Park demands that the SlingShot Group suspend not only the operation of Orlando FreeFall but also the operation of Orlando SlingShot, effective immediately, continuing until such time as a thorough investigation by the appropriate authorities has been completed, and all parties are satisfied that the rides are safe for the public," ICON Park said in a statement issued Monday afternoon.
Orlando FreeFall opened in December 2021. It has been shut down since the boy's death on Thursday night.
SlingShot's other ride, Orlando SlingShot, billed as the "world's tallest slingshot," appears to have remained open. Its current status was not immediately known.
"We continue to grieve the passing of Tyre Sampson and our thoughts are with his family and friends. This was the saddest day in the history of ICON Park and we’re working hard to make sure this never happens again," read the statement.
An inspector with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, the state agency that oversees the safety of amusement rides, looks over the Orlando Free Fall drop tower ride at Orlando ICON Park.
Investigators with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services were at ICON Park on Friday investigating the ride and the seat where Sampson was apparently sitting.
Links to both attractions appear to have been removed from ICON Park's website.
SlingShot Group of Companies did not immediately issue a statement in response to ICON Park's demand. FOX 35 has reached out.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT TYRE SAMPSON
Tyre Sampson was visiting Orlando related to a football program and was with another family from Missouri, according to authorities and his family.
His dad, Yarnell Sampson, said his son loved football and had dreams of playing in the NFL one day. He said his son was an honors student.
"This should never happen to anyone else's child ever again, and if I have anything to do with this, it will not happen ever again," he told FOX 35 last week.
The family has hired Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard to represent them.
"The devastation," said Hilliard, who reportedly spoke with Tyre's mother. "The English language cannot describe appropriately the hole in her heart."
WHAT IS ICON PARK? WHO OWNS ORLANDO FREEFALL?
Icon Park is an entertainment park in Orlando. It's home to several attractions, including a large carousel, a train, and an aquarium.
In December, SlingShot Group of Companies opened two attractions there – Orlando FreeFall and Orlando Slingshot. The company also owns slingshot-style attractions in Panama City, Daytona, and Old Town, according to its website.
Orlando FreeFall stands at 430 feet, "making it the world's tallest freestanding drop tower," according to its website, which appears to have been taken offline. Up to 30 riders are lifted to the top of the tower, briefly tilts down, and then free falls nearly 400 feet at 75 miles per hour, the website stated.
Orlando Slingshot is adjacent to Freefall and stands at 300 feet, again billed as the "world's tallest slingshot." Riders are shot some 450 feet into the air at speeds up to 100 miles per hour, according to the website.