14-Year-Old Was Worried After Getting on Ride, His Father Says

After fatal fall, 911 caller said teenager wasn't secured by a seat belt
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2022 2:20 PM CDT
Father Says 14-Year-Old Was Worried About Ride
A close-up view of the Orlando FreeFall tower Friday at ICON Park in Orlando.   (Willie J. Allen Jr. /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Tyre Sampson knew something was wrong before he reached the top of the 430-foot amusement park ride from which he fell to his death, his father said. "He was panicking when he was going up,” Yarnell Sampson said, per WOFL. "He was explaining to his friend next to him, 'I don't know man. If I don't make it down, please tell my mom and daddy I love them.'" The St. Louis 14-year-old died on the FreeFall ride at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday night. "For him to say something like that, he must have felt something," his father said.

On a 911 call obtained by the Daily Mail, a woman said, "They didn't secure the seat belt on him." Sampson said he found it suspicious that FreeFall accepted his 6-foot-5, 340-pound son for a ride after all others turned him down. He said Tyre was a star football player and honor roll student in Orlando with football friends. The death is being investigated by Orange County law enforcement. So far, "it appears to be a terrible tragedy," Sheriff John Mina said.

Sampson has hired attorney Ben Crump, per CNN. Bob Hilliard, an attorney hired by Tyre's mother, said, "Families have a right to expect these national theme parks, making millions of dollars, will keep their children safe and will put that safety above all else." The boy's father, who said he wants to make sure something like this doesn't happen to anyone else, said Tyre hoped to play in the NFL someday, per the Daily Beast. "He was a team player," Yarnell Sampson said. (Read more Orlando stories.)

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