Tyre Sampson’s mom says ‘cousin’ doing interviews is unknown to the family

The woman reportedly spoke during a prayer vigil and at a protest at ICON Park in Orlando

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A woman claiming to be a cousin of the 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from an amusement park ride actually has no relation to the family, the boy’s mother has confirmed. 

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the woman who identified herself as Shay Johnson to numerous media outlets claims she spoke to Sampson on March 24. She says Sampson told her he was turned away from two attractions, the Starflyer and the Slingshot, at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, due to his size.

Both rides were temporarily closed amid the ongoing investigation into Sampson’s death, theGrio previously reported.

The magnets engaged to slow during its descent, according to an accident report released Monday by the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services. 

Sampson was 6 foot 5 inches and about 340 pounds, according to relatives, per NBC News. Despite being 50 pounds heavier than its published weight limit, FreeFall operators allowed him to ride.

The woman claiming to be Sampson’s cousin reportedly spoke during a prayer vigil Monday and at a protest the following day at ICON Park calling for the Orlando FreeFall ride to be demolished.

Sampson’s mother told Orange County detectives that “she does not know who Shay Johnson is,” OCSO spokesperson Michelle Guido said in an email Thursday, according to the report. Guido noted that Johnson telling reporters that she’s related to the boy does not constitute criminal activity. 

A cell phone number Johnson gave to the Sentinel “was not in service Thursday evening,” per the publication. 

Attorneys representing Sampson’s family say none of them know Johnson, WFTV reported.

The teen, from St. Louis, Missouri, was visiting the amusement park as part of a football program trip. His fatal fall was captured in a cell phone video that quickly went viral once shared online. Yarnell Sampson, the boy’s father, learned of Sampson’s death after coming across the footage on social media. 

Yarnell told Fox News his son knew something was off with his safety harness and his restraint bar was moving.

“That’s when he started freaking out. And he was explaining to his friends, next to him, ‘I don’t know man, if I don’t make it down safely can you please tell my mamma and daddy that I love them,’” he explained. “For him to say something like that, he must have felt something.”

Sampson died from “multiple injuries and trauma,” the accident report states.  

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove quotes attributed to Johnson.

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