ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — Operations guidelines for Orlando FreeFall, the drop tower ride at ICON Park where a 14-year-old boy died last week, indicates that the boy exceeded the ride’s weight restrictions.
According to documents obtained by WFLA, the operations manual lists the maximum weight for the ride as less than 287 pounds.
The teen’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told FOX 35 Orlando that his son was uneasy about the ride.
“When the ride took off, that’s when he was feeling uncomfortable,” Sampson told Fox 35. “He was like, ‘What’s going on?’ That’s when he started freaking out. 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.’ For him to say something like that, he must’ve felt something.’”
Tyre was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 340 pounds. His father said Tyre wasn’t allowed to get on other rides.
“This one particular ride said we can take you, come on, get on,” Sampson told Fox 35. “No one else allowed him to get on the ride. So, I’m wondering what happened between now and then that made them say, ‘Come on, get on this ride.’”
Tyre dropped out of his seat from a 430-foot, free-fall amusement park ride that is taller than the Statue of Liberty along a busy street in the heart of Orlando’s tourist district not far from Disney World.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the ride was inspected in December and has been open for less than six months.
John Stine, director of sales and marketing for the Slingshot Group of Companies, the owner and operator of the ride, said there are several safety checks in place before the ride is ready to launch.
Read the ride manual below
“The ride will not operate if those checks are not greenlighted. Again, everything was functioning properly when the ride started. What we don’t know is what happened after that,” Stine told WFLA. “We’re just deeply saddened and shocked by what happened last night. Our hearts break for the family.”
Sampson’s family has reportedly hired attorneys Benjamin Crump and Bob Hilliard while authorities continue to investigate the teen’s death.
“He absolutely would’ve accepted if this ride would’ve said respectfully to him, ‘We’re sorry, but you can’t ride it,’” Hillard told Fox 35. “You know, he would be home right now getting ready for football practice, and that’s their responsibility.”
Tyre attended City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis. He planned to play football at East St. Louis High School next school year, reported Nexstar station KTVI.