ORLANDO, Fla. - Clarification: Slingshot Group, which owns two rides at ICON Park – Orlando FreeFall and Orlando Slingshot – said it intends to reopen its slingshot-style ride once it receives state approvals. Orlando FreeFall remains closed indefinitely.
The company that owns Orlando FreeFall – a 430-foot drop tower ride that a 14-year-old boy fell from and died in March 2022 – intends to reopen one of its rides once it receives the "necessary approvals" from the Florida Department of Agriculture.
In a written statement on Monday, an attorney for Slingshot Group said, "we do hope to reopen the Slingshot ride, once we have all the necessary approvals from the Department of Agriculture."
"The safety of our patrons always comes first," the statement said.
Both Orlando FreeFall – the drop tower ride – and Orlando Slingshot – a slingshot-style attraction – have been closed since March 2022 pending various investigations after Tyre Sampson, a high school football player and "A" student visiting from St. Louis, Missouri, fell out of the Orlando FreeFall ride's restraints, and later died at the hospital.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Orlando FreeFall death investigation
It was determined by investigators that the ride's operators made manual adjustments to two of the ride's seats, including the one that Sampson was in, to accommodate larger passengers, which allowed the spacing between the passenger and the restraint to be several inches wider.
An autopsy revealed Sampson also weighed nearly 100 pounds more than the maximum recommended passenger weight for the ride. It was determined that Sampson died from blunt force trauma, and his death was ruled an "accident."
Tyre Sampson, 14, is pictured in a provided family photo.
Sampson's parents – Yarnell Sampson and Nekia Dodd – have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple companies, including Slingshot Group, ICON Park, and the ride's manufacturer, in wake of the teen's death. They've also demanded that the ride be permanently closed, a permanent memorial for Sampson be built, and that additional safety measures and regulations for attractions be regulated.
Yarnell Sampson held a news conference Monday alongside his attorney Benjamin Crump, where he wrote the words "death trap" and Tyre's name on the temporary fencing placed around the ride.
State Rep. Geraldine Thompson's also discussed the so-called "Tyre Sampson Bill" she is proposing that would increase inspections and regulations around amusement rides.
In Florida, most amusement parks and rides are inspected by the Department of Agriculture, including ICON Park. However, the larger parks, such as Disney, have previously been allowed to govern themselves.
Nekia Dodd, left, and Yarnell Sampson, right, parents of Tyre Sampson, the teen who fell off an amusement ride in Orlando and died, spoke Tuesday, April 26, at separate press conferences about their son and their civil lawsuit against the ride's manu (FOX 35 Orlando)
According to the Department of Agriculture, FreeFall opened in Dec. 2021 and passed its inspection. It was expected to have a second inspection six months after opening.
Slingshot Group owns two rides at ICON Park – Orlando FreeFall and Orlando Slingshot. The company also owns the Orlando Starflyer, which is near the park, and other slingshot-style rides around Florida.