Dad Says His 14-Year-Old Son Panicked Before ICON Park Drop Death

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Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Sentinel

The Missouri father of the 14-year-old boy who died while on an amusement park ride in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday said his son knew he was in danger—and he wants to make sure no other child feels like that again.

“He was panicking when he was going up,” Yarnell Sampson, the dad of Tyre Sampson, told WOFL. “He was explaining to his friend next to him, ‘I don’t know man. If I don’t make it down, please tell my Mom and Daddy I love them.’ For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”

Sampson’s description of his son’s fear matches what a woman told a 911 operator just after the tragic fall. In a 911 call obtained by the Daily Mail, a woman claimed Tyre had not been secured in his seat prior to the slip.

“They didn’t secure the seatbelt on him,” she said. He was also breathing just after the fall, she said, but because he had fallen on his stomach, no one could perform CPR. His arms and legs appeared to be broken, she said.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Tyre Sampson’s death after he fell from the 430-foot drop tower Thursday. Sampson retained Ben Crump, famous for his civil rights and personal injury claims, who said a fun time at a park “should not have ended in tragedy.”

Sampson said the ride was the only one who offered to take his 6-foot-5-inch, 340-pound son, something he found suspicious.

“This one particular ride said, ‘We can take you, come on! Get on!’” he said. “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!’”

Sampson described his son as a star football player and honor roll student. Tyre, a St. Louis native, was in town with friends through his football program and had just come off a stellar season. He said his son had the NFL in sights for his future.

“He was a team player. He was the type of young man that’d take the shirt off his back and give it to you,” Sampson said.

Now he wants answers as to why that young team player with a bright future was killed.

“This should never happen to anyone else’s child ever again,” Sampson said. “If I have anything to do with this, it will not happen ever again.”

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