Parents sue after death of teen from Florida drop-tower ride

Southeast

Close up view of the Orlando Free Fall at ICON Park on Friday, March 25, 2022 in Orlando, Fla. A 14-year-old boy fell to his death from the ride, which opened late last year. (Willie J. Allen Jr. /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The parents of a 14-year-old boy who fell to his death from a 430-foot (131-meter) drop-tower ride in central Florida’s tourist district sued its owner, manufacturer and landlord Monday, claiming they were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride.

The parents of Tyre Sampson said in the lawsuit filed in state court in Orlando that the defendants failed to warn their 6-foot-2-inch (188-centimeter), 380-pound (172-kilogram) son about the risks of someone of his size going on the ride and didn’t provide an appropriate restraint system on the ride.

While most free-fall rides have a shoulder harness and a seat belt, the Orlando Free Fall ride had only an over-the-shoulder harness. Adding seat belts to the ride’s 30 seats would have cost $660, the lawsuit said.

At the time of the accident last month, Sampson was on spring break, visiting from the St. Louis area.

“The defendants in Tyre’s case showed negligence in a multitude of ways,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Sampson’s family. “From the ride and seat manufacturers and the installer to the owners and operators, the defendants had more than enough chances to enact safeguards, such as seat belts, that could have prevented Tyre’s death.”

Spokespeople for the ride’s owner, Orlando Slingshot, and landlord, ICON Park, didn’t immediately have comment on the lawsuit.

Last week, an initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said that sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats, resulting in Sampson not being properly secured before he slipped out and fell to his death.

The Orlando Free Fall ride, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty, didn’t experience any electrical or mechanical failures, the report said.

The report said there were many other “potential contributions” to the accident and that a full review of the ride’s design and operations was needed.

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