Orlando FreeFall victim’s parents, Ben Crump discusses wrongful death: ‘Profit over security’

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Nekia Dodd and Yarnell Sampson, mother and father of the late 14-year-old Tyree Sampson, discussed their lawsuit against ICON Park in Orange County, Florida, on Monday.

Tire Sampson fell to her death from the Orlando FreeFall ride at ICON Park on March 24th. The teenager had traveled from St. Louis, Missouri, to Orlando with a football program as the tragic event unfolded.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who brought the case on behalf of the Sampson family with attorneys Robert Hilliard and Michael Haggard, said during a separate press conference Tuesday, recorded by FOX 35 Orlando, that he filed the lawsuit because defendant “put profit over security.”

Attorney Ben Crump (right) and Yarnell Samspon, Tire Sampson's father, speak at a news conference on April 26.

Attorney Ben Crump (right) and Yarnell Samspon, Tire Sampson’s father, speak at a news conference on April 26.
(FOX 25 Orlando)

“If you want to advertise for kids coming to your amusement park, then you have an obligation to protect kids. I mean, it’s not a complicated dynamic,” Crump said.

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The defendants “cut corners to save a penny, and it cost people their lives,” the lawyer said.

Crump added that aside from the video showing George Floyd’s killing in May 2020, the video of Tire falling from the trip has become one of the most “horrific videos ever captured.” Yarnell Sampson said he did not find out his son was dead until the video went viral on the web, and he saw Tire for the first time since he died last week at his funeral.

Yarnell Sampson, Tire Sampson's father, speaks at a news conference on April 26.

Yarnell Sampson, Tire Sampson’s father, speaks at a news conference on April 26.
(FOX 35 Orlando)

“What I’m feeling right now is nauseating. There are days when I can not get out [of] bed, make me eat, make myself drink. “Imagine losing a … 14-year-old who was a straight-A student,” Sampson said.

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Dodd and Sampson accuse the park, as well as the owner and producer of the FreeFall ride, of negligence after their son died last month.

They claim the operator of the park and amusement did not warn Tire of height and weight restrictions on the trip; failed to “provide appropriate restraint systems” on the trip; failed to inspect, test and close the trip; and “negligently” adjusted Tires clamps.

Visitors to the amusement park were in shock after seeing a teenage boy die after falling off one of the park's rides.

Visitors to the amusement park were in shock after seeing a teenage boy die after falling off one of the park’s rides.
(FOX 35 Orlando)

Sampson was 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed 330 pounds, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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The 65-page complaint also accuses the park of “negligently” selling Tire a ticket for the FreeFall ride despite his height and weight.

Dodd said she would like ICON Park to implement new safety measures for tour participants and shut down the FreeFall tour completely.

Nekia Dodd, Tire Sampson's mother, speaks at a news conference on April 26.

Nekia Dodd, Tire Sampson’s mother, speaks at a news conference on April 26.
(FOX 35 Orlando)

“He was a goalkeeper and for him not being here is just devastating. He was on his way. He wanted to be known, but not like this,” Dodd said during a Tuesday press conference. “He was supposed to be on the football field, on the field … not through … this way, no.”

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Haggard, who helped file the complaint, suggested during Tuesday’s press conference that Tire’s death could have been avoided with a “$ 22” seat belt on the trip that took millions of dollars to build.

“There were 30 seats on that trip. It would cost $ 660 … to save the life of a 14-year-old,” Haggard said, adding that there is no trip like FreeFall – which sends passengers down a 430-foot tower at 70 mph, starting at a 30-degree incline – in the US.

Attorney Michael Haggard speaks at a news conference on April 26.

Attorney Michael Haggard speaks at a news conference on April 26.
(FOX 35 Orlando)

Haggard also claimed that ICON Park has a “shocking history” with four previous driving incidents.

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Orlando Slingshot said in a Monday statement that it is cooperating with investigators.

“We reiterate that all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided by the manufacturer of the trip were followed,” the statement said. “We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement industry changes, and we also support … ‘Cover the Sampson Bill’ to prevent a tragic accident like this from ever happening again.”

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

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