Free Fall Death

(Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP)

What was supposed to be a fun night for Missouri teens on spring break in Florida turned into a tragedy when 14-year-old Tyre Sampson fell from his seat on a FreeFall amusement park ride and died.

Now, as the parents and the state of Florida try to make sense of the terrible accident, Sampson’s parents are moving forward with legal action. Sampson’s parents have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Went Wrong on the FreeFall Ride?

In Orlando’s ICON Park stands FreeFall. Referred to as the “world’s tallest drop tower,” the ride rises to 400 feet in the air before dropping passengers on a freefall. It is a relatively new ride that opened in December 2021.

On March 24, 14-year-old Tyre Sampson wanted to take a ride on FreeFall. The teen was visiting Florida while on spring break with a friend’s family. He took a seat on FreeFall, and no one stopped him — even though they should have.

The ride’s operating manual says the maximum passenger weight for the ride is 286. Samson stood at 6 feet, 5 inches and reportedly weighed 360 pounds.

He should not have been allowed on the ride, and according to reports, the ride should not have operated without his seat being secure.

But, the ride took off.

On the ride’s descent, Sampson fell from his seat and was tragically killed.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases: Do You Have a Case?   

The Findings from Florida’s State Investigation

After the tragic event, the state of Florida hired the forensics company, Quest Engineering to determine what went wrong on the ride. Released on April 18, 2022, the report indicated that “manual adjustments” were one of the factors that contributed to the accident, as reported by Fox 35 in Orlando.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried shared some of the findings during a press conference:

“The report confirms that manual adjustments had been made to the sensor for the seat in question that allowed the harness’ restraint opening to be almost double that of the normal restraint’s opening range.

These misadjustments allowed the safety lights to illuminate – improperly satisfying the ride’s electronic safety mechanisms — that allowed the ride to operate even though Mr. Sampson was not properly secured in the seat.”

One week after the state’s report was released, Sampson’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Sampson’s Family

The 65-page wrongful death civil lawsuit was filed in Orange County’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court on behalf of Sampson’s parents, Nekia Dodd and Yarnell Sampson, and Sampson’s estate.

According to Fox 35 in Orlando, the lawsuit names the owners and manufacturers of the Orlando FreeFall ride, the operators of ICON Park which is the amusement park where the ride is located, and the construction company that built the ride.

The wrongful death suit alleges that the defendants:

  • Failed to follow ride’s safety guidelines
  • Failed to ensure Sampson was properly secured before the ride took off
  • Failed to post warnings about height and weight restrictions
  • Failed to install adequate restraints systems

The lawsuit requests trial by jury and seeks an unknown amount of damages. It states that Sampson “had a long and prosperous life in front of him that was cut short by this tragic event.”

How to Prove Fault in a Wrongful Death Case

Attorneys representing Sampson’s family will now seek to prove in court that the accident should never have happened and that the named defendants are to blame.

To prove fault in a personal injury case, attorneys in Sampson’s case must prove four things.

  1. Negligence: Attorneys must show that that accident was caused because one or more people or businesses were aware of an unsafe condition and failed to act to make it safe.
  2. Causation: Attorneys must show that the proven negligence was the direct cause of the accident. The accident only happened because of the negligence.
  3. Damages: Attorneys must show that damages were caused as a result of the accident. Damages can be monetary (such as cost of funeral, loss of potential income, etc.) and non-monetary (such as emotional trauma, loss of companionship, etc.).
  4. Breach of Duty: Attorneys must show that the defendant or defendants had a duty to provide a safe condition for the plaintiff.

The Sampson family lawsuit was filed on April 25, 2022, and no court dates have been set as of now. The Sampson family will seek to get their day in court and find justice for their son.

Related: 6 of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About Personal Injury 

Seeking Justice in Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Cases

If you or someone you love was injured in an accident, you deserve justice. Talk to a personal injury or wrongful death attorney about how you can hold parties accountable for negligence that resulted in an accident or damages.

See if you have a case worth fighting for. Schedule a time to talk to TJ Grimaldi today. To talk to TJ, schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023.

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