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Parents of teen killed in Orlando free fall ride accident sue owners

Lawsuit announced by Attorney Ben Crump Monday
Orlando FreeFall ride
Posted at 2:11 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 15:31:00-04

ORLANDO, Fla. — The parents of Tyre Sampson, the boy who died on a free fall ride at Icon Park in Orlando in March, have filed suit against the owners of the park and other companies, their attorney Ben Crump announced Monday.

The announcement of the lawsuit came a week after Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried said the ride was made "unsafe" after manual adjustments were made by the operators.

Sampson, 14, died after falling from the ride on March 24.

According to the lawsuit, "most free fall rides of this type have both a shoulder harness and a seatbelt, this subject Free Fall ride only had an over-the-shoulder harness to 'secure' riders." The lawsuit claimed installing seatbelts on the ride would have cost "approximately $600."

Fried said a report completed by a forensic engineer, Quest Engineering and Failure Analysis, showed that the changes allowed the harness restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal range.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida officials speak on Orlando thrill ride death investigation

"This report answers the questions of what mechanically took place," Fried said. "This report confirmed our department's findings that the operator of the Orlando Drop Tower made manual adjustments to the ride, resulting in it being unsafe."

She added that the "mis-adjustments" allowed the safety lights on the seat to illuminate, "improperly satisfying the ride's electronic safety mechanisms that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in the seat."

Fried said the report also noted that there are several other factors that may have played a role in the incident. The ride will remain closed while the investigation continues, Fried said.

The lawsuit stated that Tyre got on the ride around 11 p.m. on March 24. At the time, the lawsuit said Tyre was 14-years-old, 6'2", and weighed approximately 380 pounds. In the suit, Crump said "no weight or height restrictions were posted at the ticket counter and no ICON or SLINGSHOT Defendant employees...advised Tyre about any weight or height restrictions."

Signed documents provided by FDACS showed the Free Fall ride passed a state inspection on December 20, 2021. Signed certification from ride operators there the night of Sampson's death also appeared on a state training record.

Fried said the outcome of the full investigation will determine if changes are made to existing rules, regulations and statutes. Fried said any necessary changes would be made "immediately."

Mother of teen killed on FreeFall drop tower ride in Orlando speaks to press | Press Conference
Father of teen killed on FreeFall drop tower ride in Orlando speaks to press | Press Conference