Entertainment And News

A 14-Year-Old Died By Falling From Orlando Theme Park Ride & People Are Implying It Was His Fault

Photo: Facebook
Tyre Sampson, Orlando ICON Park Tower

Last Thursday, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson died after falling to his death from a drop tower ride at Orlando's ICON Park.

The drop tower has only been in operation for a few months; it slowly brings riders up toward the top of the tower before dropping them downward at speeds as fast as 75 miles per hour.

After the ride enters its fall, it’s meant to decelerate as it approaches the ground, giving riders the sensation of falling while slowing them down before reaching the ground. On the night of Tyre Sampson’s death, the ride functioned as normal. 

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The mechanism that was meant to hold Sampson into his seat, however, failed.

Now, as awareness of the incident spreads, some are blaming Tyre Sampson for his own death.

A 911 call that first reported the incident is, at present, the best clue we have about what happened to Sampson.

“I don’t know from where he fell. They [ICON park staff] didn’t secure the seatbelt on him,” the caller claims.

Yet, online, criticisms towards the staff's alleged negligence is also being accompanied with cruel comments about the boy's role.

On now-deleted videos of the incident, some commented on Sampson's size as being part of the reason for his death.

Sampson was visiting Orlando with a friend's family, having traveled from his home in Missouri.

Sampson, who stood at 6’5” tall and weighed 340 pounds, had aspirations to play in the NFL. He was a kid.

As a result of his size, Sampson couldn’t ride the vast majority of the rides, all of the rides turned him down, except for one.

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Sampson’s father, Yarnell Sampson said of that terrible night, “This one particular ride said, ‘We can take you, come on! Get on!’ 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 this ride!’”

Whatever the reason, the facts remain the same. A 14-year-old boy, with his whole life ahead of him, fell to his death while on a ride at ICON Park in Orlando.

A video of the incident started to circulate online.

A graphic video of the accident initially circulated online, but most of the posts have been deleted at this point in the interest of respecting Tyre Sampson and his family.

Many are calling out the people that are reposting the video as being disrespectful and exploitative.

But the video also created a unique, and damaging, opportunity for people to do their own amateur investigation into what happened. In doing so, many have come to a rather offensive and cruel conclusion that Sampson could somehow have prevented his own death.

Some people are implying that Tyre Sampson shares the responsibility for his death.

It sounds insane but it’s true that some people that are “simply asking questions” are implying that Sampson should have done this or that or somehow shared in the responsibility for his death.

Aside from the obvious insensitivity of these comments, these words also point to a deep-rooted fatphobia and the adultification of larger children.

Sampson, regardless of his size and appearance, was a child who ought to have been better cared for by the staff at ICON Park.

It is unclear exactly what is motivating people to insinuate that a 14-year-old boy shares any of the responsibility for his death, but others still have been quick to point out how both ridiculous and insulting it is.

Tyre Sampson is dead and whether it was the manufacturers of the ride or the staff or the park someone is responsible for this accident and it sure as hell isn’t the 14-year-old victim.

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Dan O'Reilly is a writer who covers news, politics, and social justice. Follow him on Twitter.