Florida FreeFall teen death: Father of teenager says he learned about his son dying from social media video

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The father of the 14-year-old who died after falling off of an amusement park in Orlando, Florida on March 24 says that he learned about his son’s death through a social media video of the incident.

Tyre Sampson, 14, died after falling off of the Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park on March 24, and video of the incident was posted to social media.

Yarnell Sampson, Tyre’s father, told WESH 2 that he found out about his son’s death through a video of the incident that was posted to social media. 

“It felt like somebody hit me so hard in my stomach. I just lost, I lost, lost wind. And the pain behind it could never be taken away, and sorry’s not gonna take it back and no monies, no nothing in the world to replace the young man. And it’s just sad, a young man’s bright future was taken away from him over a ride, an amusement park,” Sampson said.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TEEN DEATH: RIDE SAFETY EXPERT HARNESS ‘WAS NOT ON CORRECTLY’

Tyree Sampson and Yarnell Sampson (FOX 35 Orlando)

Tyree Sampson and Yarnell Sampson (FOX 35 Orlando)
(FOX 35 Orlando)

An operating manual for the Orlando FreeFall states that the maximum passenger weight is just over 286 pounds. Sampson was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 330 pounds, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Yarnell Sampson said during an interview with FOX 35 Orlando that his son could tell something wasn’t right.

“When the ride took off, that’s when he was feeling uncomfortable. He was like, ‘This thing is moving.’ … That’s when he started freaking out,” Yarnell Sampson told FOX 35 Orlando. “He was explaining to his friends next to him … ‘If I don’t make it down … please tell my mom and dad I love them.’ For him to say something like that, he must’ve felt something.”

An incident report filled out by an employee at the Orlando FreeFall states that the harness was still in a locked position when the ride came to a stop.

FLORIDA FREEFALL TEEN DEATH: SEAT HARNESS STILL LOCKED AFTER HORRIFYING ACCIDENT AT ORLANDO PARK

Tyre Sampson

Tyre Sampson
(FOX 35 Orlando)

“FreeFall was coming to [sic] down the tower. When the magnets engaged, the patron came out of the seat,” an employee wrote in the report. “Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped.”

Brian Avery, a University of Florida lecturer and ride safety expert, told Fox News Digital that he believes the harness was not on Sampson properly.

“In my opinion, it was not on correctly… it was resting on his stomach is what it appears in the videos that I’ve reviewed, and that it was not touching or close to the seat pan and/or in-between his crotch, which should have been the proper positioning of that to ensure that there was no gap between the base of the harness and/or the seat pan itself,” Avery said.

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Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022. 

Tourists enjoy the rides and amenities at ICON Park in Orlando on Thursday, March 24, 2022. 
(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

He said that the larger the gap between the base of the harness and the seat pan, the bigger the risk for injury.

“If you have a gap, obviously the larger the gap, the more of an opportunity you have for someone to be ejected in a space that is created between the harness and the seat pan,” Avery said.

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