Editor's note: This story includes quotes from a woman who claimed to be the victim's cousin. Tyre Sampson's family later told authorities they don't know who the woman is.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Family, friends and strangers gathered just outside ICON Park on Monday to remember the life lost of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson.

What You Need To Know

  • Vigil held feet away from where Sampson fell

  • U.S. ThrillRides chairman says this could have been avoided
  • People are petitioning the ride to be closed

It was an emotional evening where not only did Sampson's family struggle to hold back tears, but so did members of the community who came out to show support.  Many with children by their side. Even the inventor of Sky Coaster Bill Kitchen came to show his respect and say this all could have been avoided.

The days have not gotten easier for Shay Johnson.

Her cousin, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson lost his life falling from the ICON Park’s Free Fall ride Thursday – a ride he told his cousin he was excited to go on after being told he couldn’t ride some other ones.


“He said 'I am too big. I can’t ride,'” Johnson recalls. “So I said, 'go try another one.' That’s when he came to try the SlingShot and they told him he was too big, so then he sad 'cousin there is another ride I am going to try it out.'”

It's a conversation she will never forget.

“He called me and said, 'they let me ride it,'” Johnson says with a smile. “I can ride, I can ride, so I said 'ok get on.' Didn’t know this would be my last time talking to him alive. He just wanted to ride.”

Over 100 people came to the vigil on Monday evening. One of those that came to pay their respects was U.S. Thrill Rides founder and ride inventor Bill Kitchen. 


“I am sad,” the ride inventor said, looking up at the ride. “It is a sad thing because it was such an unnecessary death.”

Kitchen’s company, which did not make the ride Sampson fell out, of has made over 200 rides across the world. Over 40 million people have been on his rides, and they have had no serious accidents reported. Kitchen’s believes a simple safety measure should have been on the ride.


“Why didn’t they install a safety strap?” Kitchen asks, holding what looks like an ordinary seat belt and buckle. “It’s called a crotch strap. I went out and bought one at an auto parts store. It costs $20. The whole kit costs $20, and why wasn’t it on the ride?”

Balloons were let go in the air to honor Sampson. He was a 14-year-old who played football and his favorite team was the Miami Dolphins. He was also an honor roll student and wanted to be a lawyer.


His cousin is grateful for the continuous support.

“It make me feel happy, that so many people came out and showed their love,” Johnson says. “Half these people out here don’t know us.”

Unfortunately for the wrong reasons, people are starting to know the 14-year-old that lost his life on a ride – Tyre Sampson.

Kitchen who created the Skycoaster says he has reviewed several videos of what happened this past Thursday, and one thing he says he saw often was carelessness and a lack of attention to safety.