Teen Was 'Freaking Out' Before Plummeting to His Death at ICON Park: Father

The teenage boy, who fell from a tower ride at Orlando's ICON Park Thursday night, was "freaking out" in the moments before his death, his father said.

Tyre Sampson, 14, fell from the park's 430-foot tall free-fall ride in the latest deadly incident to occur at an amusement park. His father, Yarnell Sampson, is now demanding answers about how the fatal fall happened and shared what he knows about the moments leading up to his son's death.

The teen got on the ride with two of his friends, but once it took off, he quickly grew panicked, Tyre's father told local Orlando-based television news station WOFL-TV.

"He was like, 'What's going on?' That's when he started freaking out," he said.

Sampson explained that as the ride continued, his son told his friend, who was next to him, to tell his parents that he loved them if he did not make it down from the ride. "For him to say something like that, he must have felt something," he said.

He questioned why his son, who was 6'5" and weighed 340 pounds, was permitted on the ride, as he was prevented from riding others due to size limitations, adding that ride operators should have stopped it while he was panicking.

"I'm wondering what happened between now and then that made them say, 'Come on, get [on] this ride,'" he said.

Riders are held in place with a shoulder harness and no other additional belt, WOFL reported.

Sampson remembered his son as an honor student with a "bright future" who hoped to someday play football in the NFL. "This should never happen to anyone else's child ever again," he said. "And if I have anything to do with this, it will not happen ever again."

The Orange County Sheriff's Office has opened an investigation as it remains unknown exactly how the events that lead up to the teen's death unfolded.

ICON Park released a statement late Friday night on Twitter about the incident, writing that "our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and friends." The statement also said that the amusement park will cooperate with law enforcement and regulators.

The ride opened in December of last year, and the park claims that it's the world's tallest free-standing drop tower. Riders board a vehicle that brings them to the top of the tower, which tilts 30 degrees to briefly face the ground, and then drops down. It reached a speed of more than 75 miles per hour.

A video that has circulated online showed workers discussing the ride's safety measures right after the incident occurred.

Incidents involving amusement park rides do occur from time-to-time, but remain rare. In 2020, an employee at ICON Park died after falling 50 to 60 feet off a 450-foot tall swing ride. A federal investigation ruled he was not properly hooked up to its safety device.

Newsweek reached out to ICON Park for comment Saturday afternoon. This story will be updated with any response.

Tyre Sampson was "freaking out" before fall
Tyre Sampson, the 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from a tower ride at Orlando’s ICON Park, was “freaking out” before the fall, his father said. Above, a freewill tower is seen in Munich, Germany, in September 2015. Philipp Guelland/Getty Images