Dollywood closes ride out of 'abundance of caution' after ICON Park Orlando free fall death

Thursday, March 31, 2022
Dollywood closes drop tower ride after fatal fall at Florida park
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Dollywood is temporarily closing its drop tower ride after a teen died falling from a similar one at ICON park Orlando park in Florida.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. -- Dollywood is temporarily closing its drop tower attraction after a boy fell to his death from a similar type of ride by the same manufacturer at a park in Orlando, a spokesman for Dolly Parton's Tennessee theme park said.

"We were deeply saddened to hear of the heartbreaking accident at ICON Park in Orlando, Fla. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this unimaginably difficult time," Wes Ramey, Dollywood's public relations director, said in a statement.

"Although Dollywood does not have the specific ride involved in this tragic incident, the safety of our guests is our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution, and until further details about the accident at ICON Park are known, we have temporarily closed Drop Line, our drop tower ride that was developed by the same manufacturer," Ramey said.

On Thursday night, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell to his death from the OrlandoFreeFall ride, described by its operators as the world's tallest free-standing drop tower at 430 feet.

Dollywood's Drop Line is 20 stories, according to the website of the Pigeon Forge park.

READ MORE: 'Felt like a dream': Witness recounts moment teen falls to death from Florida amusement park ride

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.

An official with the company that operates the ride told CNN affiliate Spectrum News 13 the boy was secured in his seat. Investigators are looking into whether the incident was an accident or intentional. From the initial investigation, "it appears to be a terrible tragedy," Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

In an interview with CNN, the sales and marketing director for Slingshot Group, which operates the Orlando ride, said the company is devastated by the boy's death and is focused on finding out what happened.

The ride at ICON Park, which was inspected in December, is closed while the investigation continues.

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