Tyre Sampson, Who Fell To His Death From Orlando Ride, Was Turned Away From Other Rides
UPDATE: The woman who said she was "Shay Johnson" and related to the family was later found to be someone with no association with the family.
ORLANDO (CBSMiami/CNN) - Tyre Sampson, who fell to his death last week from an amusement park ride in Orlando, was turned away from two other rides at the park because of his size.
That's according to his cousin, Shay Johnson, who spoke with 14-year-old Tyre by phone just before he got on the Orlando FreeFall drop tower at ICON Park.
During the ride, Sampson came out of his seat and fell when the magnets engaged to slow the ride during the descent, according to a state investigation report which was based on employee witness statements.
According to the ICON Park website, the Orlando FreeFall drop tower takes riders up and then drops them nearly 400 feet at speeds that reach more than 75 mph.
Johnson was the one who dropped Tyre off at the park on Thursday. She said he told her he wanted to ride the swing.
"I said 'OK. Ride it twice, and ride it for me, too,'" Johnson said. "He called me back about 7 minutes later. He said 'They said I'm too big. I can't ride'."
Johnson said she told Tyre to try another ride, the SlingShot, but he was also told he was too big. He told her there was one more ride he was going to try.
It was the Orlando FreeFall.
"He called me and he say, 'They let me ride. I can ride. I can ride,'" she remembered him telling her before getting on it. "I didn't know it would be my last time talking to him alive. He just wanted to ride and have a good time."
Tyre's father, Yarnell Sampson, has also raised the question of his son's size, telling CNN on Friday: "My son was 6'5," 340. So, he's a big guy."
The ride's operations and maintenance manual, which has been posted online by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, indicates the maximum passenger weight is approximately 287 pounds.
"Be careful when seeing if large guests fit into the seats. Check that they fit within the contours of the seat and the bracket fits properly. If this is not so -- Do not let this person ride," the manual states.
Slingshot Group operates both the Orlando FreeFall and Orlando SlingShot in the park. They have not said if Tyre fit properly or whether he was denied boarding the other ride due to his size.
The state's accident report said Tyre's seat was locked when the ride landed.
"Harness was still in a down and locked position when the ride stopped," said the report filed by the operator with the fair rides division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Video circulating on social media, purportedly of the ICON Park incident, shows a person falling from their seat about five seconds into the ride's drop, perhaps about two-thirds of the way down, as the ride slowed as it approached the ground.
The FreeFall ride is closed while the accident is being investigated. And on Tuesday, Slingshot Group said it had suspended operation of the SlingShot ride.
"We are heartbroken by the loss of Tyre Sampson and absolutely devastated for his family and loved ones," the group said in a statement.
"We have suspended the operations of the FreeFall ride and the Slingshot ride at Icon Park. We are fully cooperating with the authorities at the state and local levels who are investigating this tragic incident. We plan on providing additional information in the coming days, as we learn more," the statement said.
ICON Park said it had demanded that Slingshot Group suspend them both until a thorough investigation was completed and all parties were satisfied that the rides are safe for the public.
(©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)
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