Father of teen who fell off Florida ride sues hoping to ‘make change’

The family of Tyre Sampson filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday after their teenage son fell to his death on a Florida amusement park ride (Pictures: Facebook / Fox / AP)

The family of a Missouri teenager who fell to his death last month off an amusement park ride in Florida, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Monday hoping to ‘make change.’

Tyre Sampson, 14, died on March 24 when he plunged off the 430-foot Free Fall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida. His father and mother, Yarnell Sampson and Nekia Dodd are the plaintiffs named in the 65-page lawsuit filed in Orange County.

‘My son was Tyre Sampson, just 14-years-old. He’s been taken away from me too soon,’ Yarnell Sampson told on Tuesday.

‘When you kiss your child and tell them you love them, you know, the raw emotions of that. I don’t have that choice. Or the chance no more to say that,’ he said.

The defendants in the suit were Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot LLC, which owns the Free Fall ride, and ICON Park.

Also named as a defendant is Funtime Handels GMBH and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GMBH, an Austrian company that designed and manufactured the ride, . 

Among the allegations, the lawsuit claims the Slingshot Group and companies knew that the ride was not safe and did not have proper signage posted warning people about the potential dangers or signs about weight and height requirements.

‘This could have been prevented . . . it should have been prevented,’ the teen’s mother told . ‘As an operator, you have a job to check those rides, you know. The video I saw, that was not done. And if it was done, it should’ve been done more than once, you know.’

Last week, Florida officials said operator error was the primary suspected cause of the teenager’s death.

The preliminary report by investigators found that Sampson ‘was not properly secured in the seat’ and a safety sensor has been ‘manually adjusted,’ increasing the gap between the restraint harness and the seat.

A video taken by a bystander shows the gap in Sampson’s seat was between six and seven inches. Investigators say Sampson ‘slipped through the gap between the seat and the harness and fell 100 feet to his death.

His parents told GMA they hope ‘filing the lawsuit will prevent such an event from happening again.’

‘I want the ride gone. Gone. Because it shouldn’t have taken a child, or anyone, to lose their life to put laws in place. It could’ve been prevented,’ Dodd said.

The FreeFall ride remains closed pending a full investigation.


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