ORLANDO, Fla. — A 14-year-old visiting from out of state has died after he fell from a free-fall thrill ride at Orlando's ICON Park, the Orange County Sheriff's Office reports.
“Our prayers and our thoughts are with the family and we can’t imagine what they’re going through," Sheriff John Mina said during a press conference Friday.
The sheriff's office says deputies responded just after 11 p.m. to the Orlando Free Fall ride at the park after witnesses reportedly saw a person fall from the ride to the ground. The teen would later die at the hospital from his injuries, according to authorities.
Mina says the Missouri teen was visiting the area with a friend's family and that victim advocates have been in touch with the 14-year-old's family to help them through this "terrible tragedy."
As of Friday afternoon, the sheriff's office says no criminal charges have been filed and that the teen's death appears to have been a tragic accident. Sheriff Mina added that operations with the ride appeared to be "normal" but that the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs is tasked with investigating the ride's safety.
Interviews with witnesses and employees in addition to video are being used in the sheriff's office's ongoing investigation.
The Orlando Free Fall ride opened in December 2021 at ICON Park. According to a news release, the thrill ride stands 430 feet, "making it the world's tallest free-standing drop tower."
The park says the ride holds 30 riders. The ride rotates around the gigantic tower as it rises to the top. Once riders reach the top, the ride tilts forward 30 degrees and faces the ground for a "brief moment before free falling nearly 400 feet at speeds reaching over 75 mph."
According to the sheriff's office, riders are strapped in by a “large locking device” that goes over the rider’s shoulders.
In a statement, ICON Park said in part that the owner of the attraction was cooperating with authorities and that the ride would be closed during the investigation.
"The Orlando FreeFall will be closed pending a full investigation. Other businesses at ICON Park are scheduled to be open during their normal business hours," ICON Park said in part.