Nearly a year after the tragic death of Missouri teen Tyre Sampson, the amusement park ride that claimed his life is being dismantled.
On Wednesday, witnesses noticed a large crane beside the Orlando FreeFall ride. A large fence encircled guarded parts of the sidewalk and road, a clear indication that the disgraced ride was finally being removed. The dismantling will occur over several days. Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, the ride’s operator, confirmed that they’d permanently disassemble the 430-foot-tall attraction after Sampson fell over 100 feet from the FreeFall. An investigation found that he was too large for the ride and was not properly strapped in, causing him to slip out of his seat on March 24th, 2022. His tragic final moments were captured on film and shared countless times across social media.
His mother, Nekia Dodd, was present in Orlando Wednesday for a press conference near ICON Park. She called the moment “bittersweet.”
“The ride is coming down, and I’m thankful for that. But my son’s not coming back,” Dodd told reporters.
The mother, along with Sampson’s father, Yarnell, has fought for justice for the eighth grader, who was an adored football player. Dodd recently reached a settlement with ICON Park and Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot, though she and her attorney declined to discuss the specifics of it. Dodd did, however, reveal that she plans to invest in her community through youth sports programs to preserve Sampson’s legacy.
A forensic engineer’s field investigation report released in April faults the rides operator for Sampson’s death, concluding that they “made manual adjustments to the ride resulting in it being unsafe.”