ORLANDO, Fla. - A teenager fell to his death while riding an Orlando-area drop tower attraction, according to officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
Several law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics responded to ICON Park in Orlando, Florida late Thursday evening after a 911 caller reported the incident at the popular tourist attraction on International Drive.
Witnesses on the scene told deputies that someone had fallen off the Orlando Free Fall ride, which opened in December 2021.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office later confirmed that a 14-year-old boy was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.
"It appears to be a terrible tragedy," Orange County Sheriff John Mina said during a news conference on Friday, but says the investigation is still open. "Our prayers and thoughts are with the family," he said.
The boy has been identified as Tyre Sampson, Sheriff Mina said. He was visiting Orlando from his home in Missouri with another family in Central Florida.
The ride will remain closed during the investigation.
Investigators with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be at ICON Park on Friday to investigate the incident, said Erin M. Moffet, a spokesperson for the agency, which inspects various attractions and rides.
She said the agency was unable to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
FOX 35 has requested the most recent inspection reports for the drop tower ride.
"At first we thought it was a piece of the ride or whatever until we got a little closer, and it was a person laying on the ground," said Montrey Williams, who said he witnessed the tragedy. "Everyone was just panicking and screaming."
"We operate the ride with all the safety precautions in mind. Everything is in place and this is why we are doing this investigation," John Stine, director of marketing for the Slingshot Group, told FOX 35 News.
WHERE IS ICON PARK? HOW TALL IS THE ORLANDO FREE FALL TOWER?
According to ICON Park's website, the Orlando Free Fall stands at 430 feet, "making it the world’s tallest freestanding drop tower." The ride can accommodate 30 riders when loaded to capacity.
Authorities said a 14-year-old boy fell off the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park. He later died from his injuries, March 24, 2022.
Authorities said a 14-year-old boy fell off the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park. He later died from his injuries.
The vehicle rotates around a central tower as it rises. After it reaches the top, riders tilt forward and face the ground briefly before free-falling nearly 400 feet at approximately 75 miles per hour.
WHO OWNS ORLANDO FREE FALL AND ORLANDO SLINGSHOT?
The Orlando Free Fall sits adjacent to the Orlando Slingshot. Both attractions, which opened in December 2021, are owned and operated by the Slingshot Group of Companies, according to the ICON Park website.
ICON Park is also home to The Wheel at ICON Park and the Orlando Starflyer.
In September 2020, Jacob David Kaminsky, 21, died after he fell off the Orlando Starflyer while reportedly conducting a safety check.