The owner of the Florida drop tower rollercoaster announced Thursday that it would be pulled down after a 14-year-old boy died there in March.
Tyre Sampson’s death on March 24 prompted the operator to decide to demolish the 430-foot-tall Orlando FreeFall tower and ride at ICON Park outside of Orlando, according to a statement posted online.
The ride, which had only recently begun operation before Tyre’s passing, has since been shut down. In addition to requesting that the ride be removed, Tyre’s family also filed a still-pending wrongful death lawsuit against the park, the attraction’s operator, and the ride’s manufacturer.
According to the statement, the removal schedule “shall be established by the permissions of all concerned parties and regulatory entities.”
Yarnell Sampson, Tyre’s father, claimed to be crying “happy tears” after discovering the ride would be shutting down.
“It’s an emotional day. I am having a happy cry right now,” Yarnell Sampson told CNN Thursday. “It’s a little piece of justice for my son.”
“But the mission doesn’t stop. This is just part of the cause. A young man lost his life,” he added.
Two attorneys representing Yarnell Sampson said that “while this announcement is long overdue, the news today is a relief to Tyre Sampson’s grieving father, who has been advocating for this since the day Tyre fell to his death.”
“The Orlando FreeFall ride never should have been permitted to operate under those faulty conditions. Theme parks, their parent companies, and regulatory agencies must do better to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening to any other family,” the statement from attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard reads.
In the online statement, an official with the ride operator, Orlando Slingshot, said “we are devastated by Tyre’s death.”
“We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall,” Ritchie Armstrong, an official with Orlando Slingshot, said in the statement. “In addition, Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name.”
The Orlando Slingshot statement states that the scholarship’s specifics “are being created” and that “additional information will be disclosed in the future and following consultation with the family of Tyre.”
ICON Park made a separate statement in which it stated that it agreed with the decision to remove the attraction.
“Tyre’s death is a tragedy that we will never forget. As the landlord, ICON Park welcomes and appreciates Orlando Slingshot’s decision to take down the ride,” the park’s statement reads.