Authorities have released the 911 calls made to Orange County Fire and Rescue after a teenager fell from a drop tower ride at ICON Park in Orlando along International Drive and died.
On March 24, Tyre Sampson, 14, and his friends visited ICON Park in Orlando. They boarded one of the park’s newest attractions, the Orlando FreeFall drop tower ride, which takes riders to a height of more than 400 feet and tilts them forward before dropping them into a “controlled” free-fall toward the ground. But as the ring of riders around the tower began its descent, Sampson fell from his seat on the ride to the ground below.
Witnesses immediately began to place emergency calls for help. Audio of those calls has been released by the Orange County Fire and Rescue Department. Many of the callers can be heard in slow, almost monotone voices, presumably from their shock and disbelief at all they were witnessing that evening.
The audio from the calls makes it clear that there was confusion over whether Sampson was breathing, whether he was alive, and how far up the tower the ride was when Sampson fell.
“The thing went down the drop, and like when it got closer to the bottom and hit the brakes, the guy fell right out of the seat,” the caller explained.
During at least one call placed to Orange County 911, however, a witness says that operators failed to secure the restraint on Sampson before the ride began.
911 Dispatch: Orange Country Fire and Rescue
911 Dispatch: I’ve received a couple of calls; is the patient awake?
911 Caller: We don’t know. He’s face down. We don’t know. Someone said he was breathing, but I’m not sure.
911 Dispatch: Alright. I have help on the way. Are you with him now?
911 Caller: Thank you. Yeah, we’re all here.
911 Dispatch: Alright. And how old is he?
911 Caller: I don’t know. He’s probably [redacted].
911 Dispatch: And just to confirm, is he awake?
911 Caller: I’m not sure [inaudible] he’s breathing. But he’s not responsive. It looks like his arms are broken.
911 Dispatch: And how high up was he when he fell?
911 Caller: I’m not sure, but it’s the new one that’s all the way high. It’s the, like, highest one. I don’t know from where he fell.
911 Dispatch: Okay, so was he up off the ground?
911 Caller: No, they didn’t secure the seatbelt on him.
911 Dispatch: Okay, when he fell, was he up off the ground?
911 Caller: Yes, he was up; he was on the ride already.
911 Dispatch: Alright, the paramedics [inaudible]. Is there any serious bleeding?
911 Caller: There . . . on his feet is all I see. He is non-responsive though.
911 Dispatch: Alright, just let me know when they’re right there with you. Just stay on the line and I’ll tell you exactly what to do next. Are you right next to him right now?
(sirens begin wailing in the background)
911 Caller: Yes.
911 Dispatch: Is there somebody there that could try to [inaudible] to try to do CPR?
911 Caller: No, he’s too heavy to. He’s on his stomach.
(police sirens wailing)
911 Dispatch: Okay, the cops are there? Okay, I’ll go ahead and let them take over from here. You did a great job calling. If anything worsens, let them know, okay?
911 Caller: Okay, thank you.
911 Dispatch: Thank you.
“You guys are sure you checked him?” asks a person in the video.
Another voice can be heard chiming in with, “Yeah, the light was on. The light was on.”
Martin says this tragedy was not the fault of himself.
“This young man did nothing wrong,” Martin said. “It’s the owner operator’s responsibility to inform the rider what the requirements are.”
“The most spectacular thing that the industry has done lately is they put sample chairs outside the before you get into the queue line,” Martin explained. “Those model chairs are for you to sit down in and sit to see if you fit. If that chair existed at the entrance, that would be your first level of safety. It didn’t [at the Orlando FreeFall drop tower ride].”
The of Agriculture and continues its investigation at as the agency works to determine how fell from his seat on the . Both the and the attraction are not in operation at this time, pending the completion of the investigation. However, at least one senator has called for the permanent closure of the at in the interest of public safety.