14 year old teen boy falls 400ft to his death at Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON park in front of horrified fellow attendees as operators insist safety protocol was followed. But were they?
Did you check it …? A 14-year-old teen boy fell plunged 400 ft to his death in front of horrified witnesses while riding an Orlando-area drop tower attraction, according to officials with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Several law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics responded to ICON Park late Thursday evening after a 911 caller reported the incident at the popular tourist attraction on International Drive.
Witnesses described a teen boy falling off the Orlando Free Fall ride. The 14-year-old boy was transported to the hospital, where he died from his injuries according to local reports.
Orange County police did not release the identity of the 14-year-old boy.
It remained unclear how the boy came to fall ‘out of his seat’ and whether the tragedy was related to safety or ride performance standards.
Teen Orlando victim was afraid he might die moments before ride: ‘tell my parents I love them if I don’t make it’
This is absolutely tragic. A 14-year-old boy plummeted to his death on the Orlando Free Fall ride last night, deputies say. It’s billed as the tallest ride of its kind in the world, standing at 430 feet. The big question this morning is HOW did this happen? @WFTV pic.twitter.com/cz8EqDp1Se
— Christy Turner (@CTurnerWFTV) March 25, 2022
Operator insists safety protocols were followed
The boy’s fall led to fellow attendees expressing shock and disbelief FOX35 reported.
‘At first we thought it was a piece of the ride or whatever until we got a little closer and it was a person laying on the ground,’ Montrey Williams told FOX35. ‘Everyone was just panicking and screaming.’
Management said that all safety protocols were followed.
‘We operate the ride with all the safety precautions in mind. Everything is in place and this is why we are doing this investigation,’ John Stine, director of marketing for the Slingshot Group told FOX35.
Nevertheless concern was expressed whether in fact safety protocol was in fact followed.
Moments after the tragedy, workers of the Orlando Free Fall ride could be heard discussing safety measures.
Reported WKMG, in video transcript of workers amongst themselves immediately after the boy’s fall:
Worker 1: What are you doing?
Worker 2: I don’t know.
Worker 1: Didn’t you check it?
Worker 2: Yeah. The light was on.
Worker 3: We both — we checked it. The light was on.
Worker 1: You guys are sure you checked it?
‘There ain’t no seatbelts,’
Workers 2 and 3: We did, yeah, the light was on.
Another report described workers saying prior to the fateful ride that there were no seatbelts. The riders instead were held in their seats by pull-down plastic harnesses.
One woman was worried about the fact there was nothing more to keep them in the seats as the ride descended, asked workers if there was a seatbelt to clip them in.
‘There ain’t no seatbelts,’ a ride attendant reportedly replied.
The ride then went up in the air and halted for around 10 seconds before dropping. The boy fell out of his seat and landed on the ground soon afterwards to the horror of the other riders.
The ‘Orlando Free Fall’ opened in Dec. 2021 and claims to be the tallest free-standing drop tower. The ride stands at 430 feet tall and can hold up to 30 people.
The ride spins around a gigantic tower after it reaches peak level in the air. — Riders are positioned forward with their faces at the ground before dropping 75 miles per hour from 400 feet up according to the amusement park website.
An investigation into the tragic incident is ongoing. The Orlando Free Fall ride in the interim will remain closed.
The Orlando Free Fall sits adjacent to the Orlando Slingshot. Both attractions, which opened in December, are owned and operated by the Slingshot Group of Companies, according to the ICON Park website. ICON Park is also home to The Wheel at ICON Park and the Orlando Starflyer.
In 2020, a worker died while performing maintenance on a different attraction at ICON Park. Jacob Kaminsky fell about 50 to 60 feet to his death. He was 21 years old.