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Tyre Sampson's Parents File Lawsuit After Teen Fell To His Death From Orlando Free Fall Ride

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The family of the 14-year-old Missouri boy who was tragically killed after falling from an Orlando ride is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Middle school student, Tyre Sampson, was on spring break when he was ejected from the free-fall ride at ICON Park on March 24th.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Orange County against the park, as well as the ride's owner and manufacturer.

Coral Gables attorney Michael Haggard is representing Nekia Dodd, the mother of the victim. Haggard spoke to CBS 4 over Zoom from Missouri, where a press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.

"No one thinks they're going to get this awful call in the first place, that you've lost a child," Haggard said. "But then to describe how this happened: falling more than 100 feet from a ride and dying. How does this happen with all the safety measures we all think are in place when we go on these rides?"

At 430 feet, it is the tallest free-standing drop tower ride in the world. According to the lawsuit:

"Once the ride reaches the top, it tilts forward 30 degrees and free falls several hundred feet at speeds of more than 75 mph. Upon coming to a stop, the riders experience a g-force of around 4. To put this into perspective, the g-force experienced by astronauts during shuttle take-off is 3."

Sampson was 6'2" and weighed more than 300 pounds.

The lawsuit says no height or weight restrictions were posted, and there were no seatbelts-- only an over-the-shoulder harness.

"At any point in time had they done something, like buy a $22 seatbelt, you would have paid for that in 30 seats after the second ride on the first night," Haggard said. "That's how simple it could have been."

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.

Attorney Trevor Arnold represents Orlando Slingshot-- the company that owns, operates, and maintains the ride. He issued a statement that reads:

"We reiterate that all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided by the manufacturer of the ride were followed. We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry and we are also supportive of the concepts outlined by State Representative Geraldine Thompson to make changes to state law through the 'Tyree Sampson Bill' to prevent a tragic accident like this from ever happening again."

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.

(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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