The parents of a 14-year-old Missouri boy who died on a ride in Florida in March have sued the amusement park, the attraction’s operators and the manufacturer for negligence, saying there were no seat belts or height-adjustment warnings. and weight restrictions.
Nekia Dodd and Yarnell Sampson, the parents of teen, Tire Sampson, filed suit Monday in circuit court in Orange County, Florida. It names ICON Park, the manufacturers of the Free Fall ride and its safety harnesses, the owner of the ride and its operators among the suspects.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial.
On March 24, Tyre, a high school student, went on spring break to ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, the document says. At about 11 p.m., he climbed into the Free Fall ride, which plunges to the ground from 430 feet at more than 75 miles per hour, the lawsuit says.
The ride had an “over-the-shoulder harness” but no seat belt, it says. Tire, who was six feet tall and weighed about 380 pounds, was not notified of any weight or height restrictions by the workers, and none were posted, the lawsuit said. His weight was “significantly more than the weight limit listed in the ride’s manual,” Ben Crump, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said in a statement.
As the drop tower fell, Tire “was thrown from his seat and fell down at least 100 feet,” the lawsuit says. The suit says Tire did not receive adequate emergency medical care after the fall.
“Tyre was a 14-year-old boy who was an honors student and football player,” the lawsuit says. “Despite his prowess on the football field, he was known as a kind-hearted person who cared about others. Tire had a long and prosperous life ahead of him, which was cut short by this tragic event.”
According to the indictment, the park has failed to train workers to enforce safety precautions and run the ride in a way that avoids “foreseeable injuries and death.” Other allegations include that the park failed to install a secondary security system and had no way of confirming that its security measures were secure.
“This is a cascade of gross negligence by an entire team of guilty and sophisticated defendants – all willing to sacrifice the simplest security measures to ensure themselves the fastest and largest payday possible,” Bob Hilliard, one of the attorneys representing Tire’s father , said in a statement.
An ICON Park representative could not be reached. Trevor Arnold, an attorney for the ride’s owner, Orlando Slingshot, said in a statement that the company “continues to fully cooperate with the state during the investigation.”
“We reiterate that all protocols, procedures and safety precautions of the ride manufacturer were followed,” said Mr. Arnold.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found that modifications had been made to the “sensor of the seat in question to allow the opening of the harness to be nearly double the normal opening range of the restraint,” the commissioner of the department, Nikki Fried, said at a press conference last week. That adjustment allowed the safety mechanism to work even though Tire was not trapped in the seat, she said.
Tire was a student at City Garden Montessori School in St. Louis. School leaders said in a statement last month that he was “a much loved and valued member of our City Garden family.”
At a press conference in St. Louis on Tuesday, Ms. Dodd called for the Free Fall ride to be stopped, saying it was “disgusting” that adding a seat belt to the ride would reportedly cost $22 per seat, adding referring to a figure from the lawsuit.
“You didn’t want to miss a dollar, but you took my son from me?” she asked.
Ms. Dodd described getting a call from relatives in Florida telling her Tyre, who she described as a “gentle giant,” wouldn’t be coming home from spring break.
“Not being there, as a mother, to comfort him and tell him he’s going to be okay, it’s unsettling and heartbreaking,” she said. “I wouldn’t wish that on any parent.”
In a separate press conference on Tuesday outside ICON Park, Mr. Sampson that he first learned of his son’s death because a video of Tire’s fall was circulating on the internet.
“When I found out it was my child, I was shocked,” he said. “It also cost me some life.”
Mr Sampson reiterated Ms Dodd’s call for security improvements.
“It’s pointless for a kid to lose his life trying to have fun,” he said. “It shouldn’t be profit over safety, it should be safety over profit.”
Claire Fahy reporting contributed.