A promising future was cut short and the video went viral.
Now the tragic death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who died on March 24 when he fell from a freefall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, is headed for litigation.
Sampson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday, accusing the park, ride operator and manufacturer of negligence.
“I can’t be weak, sometimes I wanted to,” said Tire’s mother, Nekia Dodd. “He wants me to stand up for what is right. In his honor, I have to.”
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What happened on the freefall ride?
Tyre Sampson was a student and rising middle school football player from Missouri. He was in Orlando for a week’s training camp when he went to ICON Park. On the freefall ride, 30 passengers lift up, lean forward and descend about 400 feet at a speed of more than 75 mph, as per a January news release from the park. Is.
The tire was 14 but was already 6 feet, 5 inches long and over 300 pounds. A field report from Quest Engineering and Failure Analysis Inc. in Tallahassee said the tire slipped through the gap between the seat and an over-the-shoulder harness that lowered over the riders’ torso. According to a statement from Ben Crump, the tire fell at least a hundred feet on hard pavement after being pulled from the ride.
NBC News obtained a video of the incident and reports that a voice is heard asking: “Why isn’t this a little click like a seat belt?”
As the ride leaves, a voice is heard from the ground: “Hey, have you checked your seat belt on the left? Seat belt! Seat belt!”
The ride’s operation and maintenance manual lists maximum rider weight as approximately 287 pounds, but no height or weight restrictions were imposed at the ticket counter and staff were not trained on the restrictions, according to the lawsuit.
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An accident report released last week found that the sensors on the seat of the tire were manually adjusted, which allowed the ride to operate while in his seat was nearly twice as large as normal, although it was unsafe. The average restraint opening is about 3 inches, but on the two modified seats, the gap was about 6 inches and could have extended even further during the ride, the report found.
Orlando Slingshot attorney Trevor Arnold, which owns and operates the ride, says all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided by the ride’s manufacturer were followed.
What is Tire’s mother saying?
Nekia Dodd is determined to see that theme park safety changes are made at the state and national levels, so no parent will have to go through what she did. At a news conference in St. Louis, Dodd talked about the night he received the devastating news on the phone.
“I couldn’t touch her, I couldn’t hold her, I couldn’t hug her, all I could do was cry on the phone. I wouldn’t want that on any parent.”
The lawsuit alleges that while most rides in Free Fall are equipped with harnesses and seat belts, the Orlando rides were not. Suits estimates the cost of adding $22 seat belts to the ride’s 30 seats is $660.
“You didn’t want to miss a dollar, but you took my son away from me,” Dodd said. “This is absurd.”
Sampson’s family also plans to lobby Congress to improve theme park safety.
Ben Crump and Tyre Sampson Family Sue
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, in the suit said in a statement Monday that ride and seat manufacturers failed to properly implement safety features.
“The defendants showed negligence in a number of ways in the case of tires,” Crump said. “One of the most obvious examples was failing to provide a $22 seatbelt on a ride that cost several million dollars to manufacture.”
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The lawsuit claims the ride was “unreasonably dangerous” and that the tire died as a direct result of the negligence of ICON Parks, which leased the space; slingshot group; Funtime Handles GmbH, the Austrian company that manufactured the ride; and Keeter Construction, which manufactured the ride. Several other businesses associated with ridesharing have been named in the suit.
According to an advanced copy of the lawsuit provided to USA TODAY by the family’s lawyers, the companies failed to warn of tire ride height and weight restrictions, failed to properly train their employees, and a secondary seatbelt-like Failed to provide suitable restraint system. ,
“Is the manufacturer partially responsible? We believe so. Absolutely. Does this eliminate the operators’ fault? We don’t think… It was a cascade of gross negligence on the part of multiple parties. That’s why we have multiple defendants.” are,” Crump said at a news briefing.
Attorney Michael Haggard, representing Tire’s mother in the lawsuit, said the operator “manipulated the harness for the illogical purpose of allowing larger riders to go there which goes against every industry standard.”
It is unclear who and when the seats were adjusted, but Haggard said criminal charges are possible depending on the result of the state investigation.
“When you do something intentionally and it results in someone’s death, it could be homicide by negligence. It could be murder,” he said.
Is the Orlando Freefall ride open?
Last week Florida’s Commissioner for Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried said the rides have been closed since the tragic fall and will remain closed indefinitely.
The Drop Tower ride had only been open since December and touts itself as the tallest drop in the world at 430 feet. The ride was inspected for the first time on 20 December. According to NBC News, no deficiencies were found, and the ride passed its inspection.
In 2020, a 21-year-old worker died after falling 50 to 60 feet from the StarFlyer attraction at ICON Park. The man was doing a safety check on the ride, riding a 450-foot spinning swing when he fell.