Florida amusement park dismantles ride where teen fell to his death
Workers at a Florida amusement on Wednesday began dismantling a ride nearly a year after a 14-year-old boy fell to his death from the attraction.
Tyre Sampson, a teen who was visiting Orlando from Missouri, fell from the 430-foot-tall Free Fall at ICON Park on March 24, 2022. Sampson's mother, Nekia Dodd, has advocated for the ride to be taken down in the months since her son's death and was there on Wednesday as the ride was taken down.
"I hate I have to come down under these circumstances," she said during a press conference. "It's a bittersweet moment, you know. The ride's coming down and I'm thankful for that, but my son's not coming back."
Michael Haggard, an attorney for Dodd, also announced Wednesday that a settlement had been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit Dodd filed against the park and the ride operator.
Trevor Arnold, a lawyer for ride operator Orlando Slingshot, said they were pleased a settlement had been reached. Neither lawyer elaborated on the details of the settlement.
Arnold said that the ride operator supports efforts to pass the Tyre Sampson bill, which aims to prevent similar accidents in the future by blocking attraction operators in Florida from making unauthorized changes to ride restraint systems.
In Sampson's case, investigators found safety sensors had been manually adjusted to allow for larger riders. Sampson weighed around 380 pounds at the time of his death, but the ride had a 287-pound rider limit, according to its safety manual.
ICON Park, where the ride is located, is also supporting the proposed safety legislation, a spokesperson said.
"We agree with the goal to ensure extra diligence and oversight with mid- to small-attraction operators for ride training, testing and process documentation, which we also focus on in our own rigorous ride safety protocols," the ICON Park spokesperson said. "While the FreeFall ride is not owned and was not controlled or operated by ICON Park, because it is a tenant on the property, we agree with the owner's decision to dismantle the ride and our hearts are with the family as they witness this important milestone."
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