Tyre Sampson’s family: Removing FreeFall ride a small victory that could lead to laws changed

ORLAND, Fla. — On March 24 at ICON Park, tragedy struck.


Tyre Sampson slipped from his seat on the Orlando FreeFall and fell hundreds of feet to his death.

The autopsy listed Sampson’s weight as 383 pounds. The ride manual states the maximum weight for a rider as 286 pounds.

Investigators said someone had modified the safety sensors on two seats, allowing larger passengers to ride.

READ: ‘Meaningful change’: Orlando FreeFall ride to be taken down following Tyre Sampson’s death

The teen’s family sued, hoping to make a change. One of their wishes was to get the ride taken down.

Now, Orlando Slingshot says that will happen.

In a statement to Channel 9, the company said: “We are devastated by Tyre’s death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre’s family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall.”

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Kimberly Wald, the attorney for Sampson’s mother Nekia Dodd, said this is a victory, albeit a small one.

“Nekia’s goals from day one in this entire tragedy was to make sure no parent suffers through the same pain she’s going through and to change the law,” Wald said. “One of the ways we can do that is to make sure the ride is shut down permanently.”

Wald said their work is far from over.

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“Nekia’s goals were not only to get justice for her son, but to change the laws, to make sure that these rights are regulated, to make sure that there are more regular inspections,” Wald said.

It’s not clear when the ride will be removed or what will go in its place. Wald said Sampson’s mother wants something in honor of her son installed at the ride’s location.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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