Hearing set in lawsuit against Orlando FreeFall operator after teen’s death

Attorneys for boy’s family seek damages, including medical and funeral expenses

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in the wrongful death lawsuit against the operators of the Orlando FreeFall attraction, where a 14-year-old boy fell to his death earlier this year.

ORLANDO, Fla. – A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in the wrongful death lawsuit against the operators of the Orlando FreeFall attraction where Tyre Sampson, 14, fell to his death earlier this year.

The hearing comes days after the company announced the thrill ride would be torn down, following calls from the boy’s family. Sampson died in March when he fell from his seat, which was later found to be modified for larger riders.

[TRENDING: Win four 3-day park hopper passes to Walt Disney World | Become a News 6 Insider]

The Slingshot Group operated the Orlando FreeFall, and the Orlando Slingshot, but after the teen died owners of ICON Park demanded the company suspend all ride operations.

Yarnell Sampson, the teen’s father, and Tyre’s mother filed a lawsuit in April suing several companies, including the Slingshot Group and Funtime Thrill Rides, the manufacturer.

Attorney Ben Crump and the family of a 14-year-old boy who died after falling from an Orlando thrill ride in March are holding a news conference Wednesday to mark what would have been the teen’s 15th birthday.

The lawsuit alleges the ride’s operators should have known that riders could be “subject to unreasonably dangerous and foreseeable risks, and that serious injury and death of the occupants in the ride could result.”

Regardless, the lawsuit points out that the ride did not have seatbelts, which would have cost operators of Orlando FreeFall $22 per seat for a combined $660 for all seats. It also claims the manufacturer and operator of the ride should have made sure:

  • There were visible warnings for riders about height and weight restrictions
  • The ride should not have been able to function if all riders were not properly secured
  • No one should have been able to manipulate or adjust proximity sensors
  • A monitoring system should have been installed to make sure all rider restraints were properly secure
  • A mechanism should have been installed to stop the ride if a restraint was not properly secured
Attorneys for the family of a 14-year-old boy who fatally fell from an Orlando thrill ride last month formally filed a lawsuit against the ride’s operators in Orange County Monday.

An independent forensic engineering firm hired in the investigation into Sampson’s fatal fall found the operator manually adjusted the sensors in the seat he was in, which made the ride unsafe. The firm’s 14-page report determined the ride itself did not have an electrical or mechanical failure but a manual adjustment in the seat he was in allowed the ride to operate even when it was unsafe.

Attorneys representing the Sampson family are seeking damages, including medical and funeral expenses.


RELATED STORIES


About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.