ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — The parents of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, who fell to his death from a 430-foot drop-tower ride in central Florida’s tourist district, have filed a lawsuit against the ride’s owner, manufacturer and landlord.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in state court in Orlando, claimed the defendants were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride.
The defendants are also accused of failing to warn their 6-foot-2-inch, 380-pound son about the risks of going on the ride and not providing an appropriate restraint system.
Michael Haggard, the attorney representing Sampson’s mother, Nekia Dodd, claimed that the ride’s over-the-shoulder harness restraint should have been supplemented with a seat belt.
“That seat belt costs $22 a seat. They could have run this ride 2-3 times and paid for [belts on every seat] on the first night of its operations,” Haggard said. “We wouldn’t be talking right now and Tyre would be out on a football field with his mom rooting him on.”
According to preliminary findings from a forensic examination, it was discovered that the harness proximity sensor on Sampson’s seat, Seat 1, was manually loosened, allowing operators to seat larger-sized riders within the seven-inch restraint opening.
This manual adjustment caused Sampson’s seat to be improperly secured, leading him to fall from the 430-ride to his death.
“I think that’s an incredibly important fact. It’s also important who knew about it. Did the manufacturer know about it? Did Icon Park know it was occurring?” asked Haggard.
The Quest Engineering report determined there were no mechanical or electrical failures of the ride itself.
According to documents obtained by WFXR’s sister station, WFLA, the operations manual lists the maximum weight for the ride as less than 287 pounds. Sampson’s father said the boy weighed more than 300 pounds.
Orlando Slingshot, the owner and operator of the ride, sent WFLA a statement after the lawsuit was filed Monday.
“Orlando Slingshot continues to fully cooperate with the State during its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded. We reiterate that all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided by the manufacturer of the ride were followed,” wrote Orlando Slingshot, in part.
In a statement, ICON Park said park officials were “deeply troubled” about the state’s preliminary findings.
The ride had only been in operation for less than six months and was inspected in December, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.