On March 24, 2022, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson was visiting ICON Park, located on International Drive, in Orlando, Florida. The Park is less than 10 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort and features a large Ferris Wheel, an aquarium, a wax museum, and more. While there with his family, Tyre tried to ride multiple attractions, but was told that he was too large to fit. However, when he ventured over to the Orlando FreeFall attraction, which brings Guests 400 feet into the air. The ride operator adjusted the seat, so Tyre could fit, then Tyre boarded the ride, and fell to his death.
Not long after Tyre lost his life, his parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the FreeFall ride manufacturer, the landowners, and the company that operated the attraction. It was revealed that the ride operator had gone against protocol by manually adjusting the seat, which allowed Tyre to slip through the restraints without them coming undone. It was also revealed that the ride operators did not have proper training, and an acceptable ride manual was not available at the attraction.
Now, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Tyre’s death, his family has announced that they have settled with the owners of ICON Park. Here is more on the settlement from ABC News:
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Nekia Dodd, the mother of Sampson, said during a press conference on Wednesday near ICON Park as the Orlando FreeFall ride continues to be dismantled…
Her attorney, Michael Haggard, announced during the press briefing that a settlement has been reached between Dodd, ICON Park and Orlando Eagle Drop Slingshot. They declined to discuss the terms of the settlement, though Dodd said she would like to use it to “keep my son’s legacy alive” by giving back to community sports and schools.
Additional steps to hold other companies accountable continue, according to Haggard, who claimed that the ride’s manufacturer — Funtime Handels of Austria — has tried to “evade responsibility.”
ICON Park also released a statement, but deferred everything to the Sampson family:
“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.”
Last year, the Park decided to begin dismantling the Orlando FreeFall ride. There is also a bill making its way through the state legislature, called the Tyre Sampson Act. The bill would require stricter safety standards for permanent theme park rides, in addition to more training for ride operators, and the ability for ride inspectors to show up unannounced.
The Tyre Sampson Act has passed through the Senate Agricultural Committee and will now make its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. Should the bill pass, it would become law on July 1.