Teen's Fatal Fall From Drop Tower Ride 'Appears to Be a Terrible Tragedy,' Says Sheriff

Close up view of the Orlando Free Fall
Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The ride will remain closed while the incident is investigated, officials said.

A night of fun at a Florida theme park turned to disaster when a 14-year-old boy fell out of a drop tower ride to his death as other park goers watched helplessly.

The victim was identified as Tyree Samson, a high school football player from St. Louis, Missouri, who was visiting ICON Park with another family.

Standing at 430-feet, the Orlando Free Fall was billed as the “world’s tallest free-standing drop tower” ahead of its opening late last year, according to a statement. The ride is operated by the SlingShot Group.

Riders are held in by a rigid harness that locks into place. Once the ride reaches the top, the seats tilt forward before free falling, with speeds reaching over 75 mph. 

On Thursday night, the ride was more than half way down when Tyree was flung off. 

Disturbing video shows the chaotic moments that followed. Employees rushed to help, and an ambulance was called.

“Based on all of our preliminary investigation and information, it appears to be a terrible tragedy,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said at a press conference. 

According to SlingShot sales director John Stine, the ride is designed to function only when everything is locked and secure. "Only then can the ride operate," he said.

"Our hearts go out to the family of the young man who fell from the ride, and we intend to find out what the cause of this was," Stine said.

The ride will remain close as the incident is investigated.

Related Stories