Family Gathers to Remember Young Teen One Year After Tragic Theme Park Accident

tyre sampson's father Yarnell speaks to media with microphones at icon park
Credit: WFTV

The family of a young teen gathered on Friday to remember him on the one-year anniversary of his tragic death at an Orlando theme park.

RELATED: Guests Left Stranded Hundreds of Feet Above the Ground as Attraction Malfunctions

Orlando FreeFall to be torn down after death of 14-year-old boy Tyre Sampson

ICON Park in Orlando/Credit: KTLA

Family members gathered at Orlando’s ICON Park on Friday to honor the memory of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell to his death while aboard the Orlando FreeFall drop tower ride inside the park. Friday marked one year since his tragic death.

Representatives from local news stations and other media outlets gathered alongside the family, and shortly before he spoke, Tyre Sampson’s father, Yarnell Sampson, broke down in tears as he remembered his young son, who he described as a young football player who also had a 4.0 GPA in school.

“He did not deserve to die,” Yarnell Sampson said. His son would have been 16 years old later this year.
couple speaks to media at ICON Park

Credit: Yahoo! News

Earlier this month, crews arrived at ICON Park to begin dismantling and removing the 430-foot-tall structure. The attraction had only been in operation for approximately three months when Sampson and his friends visited the park and boarded the attraction that was hailed as the tallest drop tower ride in the world. The owner and operator of the Orlando FreeFall attraction, as well as the owners of ICON Park agreed to the removal of the attraction in October 2022. At that time, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs (FDACS) also imposed a $250,000 fine after the agency’s investigation found that failures on the part of the owner and operator of the attraction, ICON Park, and the manufacturer of the ride played a role in Sampson’s tragic death.
People continued to visit the memorial for Tyre Sampson outside the Orlando FreeFall ride at the ICON Park entertainment complex in Orlando, Fla. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

Makeshift memorial at the base of the Orlando FreeFall attraction at ICON Park/Credit: Associated Press

Last week, an attorney for Tyre Sampson’s mother, Nekia Dodd, revealed that his client and the owner and operator of the ride, as well as ICON Park, had come to a settlement agreement in a wrongful death suit filed in the case. The suit still stands against the designer and manufacturer of the ride, which the attorney deemed a “death trap.”

Both of Sampson’s parents paid visits to ICON Park during the dismantling and removal of the attraction. Sampson’s father, Yarnell, watched as the final piece of the ride was taken from the park, calling the moment “bittersweet.”

“Hopefully, that ride never ever gets put up again,” he said. “No other country, no other place.”

The family brought blue, orange, and white balloons with them to ICON Park on Friday and tied them to the fence surrounding the former location of the Orlando FreeFall ride.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!