'Tyre Sampson Law' Would Prevent Falls Like St. Louis Teen's

A free-fall ride at an Orlando amusement park killed the 14-year-old in March

click to enlarge Tyre Sampson was an eighth grader from St. Louis County.
Screenshot from KMOV
Tyre Sampson was an eighth grader from St. Louis County.

Florida lawmakers plan to introduce a new bill in recognition of St. Louisan Tyre Sampson after the 14-year-old fell to his death from a Florida amusement park ride in March.

Florida State Representative Geraldine Thompson announced Wednesday she will introduce a bill in the next legislative session called the "Tyre Sampson Law" aimed at ensuring amusement park rider safety.

Sampson fell from his seat in the Orlando ICON Park's Free Fall Drop Tower about halfway through the ride. An investigation into his death found uninspected adjustments had been made to the ride, and Sampson surpassed the ride's height and weight limit. He died from blunt force trauma.

Operators of the ride had at some point "manually loosened, adjusted and tightened" a harness sensor in the seat Sampson sat in, presumably to allow for larger riders, the investigation found. Sampson, who weighed 380 pounds (nearly 100 pounds over the ride's eight limit), was not properly secured and slipped out of his seat.

Sampson would have been 15 on Wednesday. The eighth grader dreamed of one day becoming a professional football player to buy his mother a house. His family has sued the ICON Park and several others, including the ride's manufacturer.

Thompson and Sampson's family called for the ride to be torn down, an Orlando news outlet reports.

"In the normal course of life, the ordinary course of life, you don't expect parents to have to bury their children," Thompson said at a news conference Wednesday. "But this was not the ordinary course, the things that happened here, were out of the ordinary."

Sampson's father, Yarnell Sampson, said the ride should be replaced with a memorial.

"When he was born, he was a star to me," Yarnell Sampson said. "He always will be a star."

The ICON Park has indefinitely closed the Free Fall ride, described on its website as one of "the world's tallest freestanding drop tower." It rises to 430 feet and operates similar to the Superman ride at Six Flags St. Louis, where thrill seekers are taken up a tall tower and then dropped for a quick but controlled descent.

About The Author

Monica Obradovic

Monica Obradovic is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times.
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