House passes Tyre Sampson Act named for teen who fatally fell from Orlando FreeFall

Bill calls for increase in ride safety across the state

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Florida House unanimously passed a bill Wednesday named after the teen who fell to his death from the Orlando FreeFall attraction over a year ago.

Tyre Sampson, 14, was riding the thrill ride, known as the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, on March 24, 2022, when he slipped from his seat as the ride was plummeting down. The ride, which took guests up into the air before dropping over 400 feet at 70 mph, has since been dismantled.

The Tyre Sampson Act, which was introduced in February 2023 by State Sen. Geraldine Thompson, calls for changes to amusement rides across the state in an effort to promote safety and prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

The legislation includes requirements for a seat belt and harness for any ride that goes over 100 feet and for all rides to be regularly commissioned, certified and tested by a separate regulatory agency.

[RELATED: Tyre Sampson Act: Fla. lawmakers to discuss bill named for teen who fatally fell from Orlando FreeFall | Evidence hearing set in lawsuit filed after teen fatally fell from Orlando FreeFall]

In addition, amusement ride operators would have a certain timeframe to report if there was an accident and the state could reserve the right to impound it if necessary.

This comes nearly two months after a Florida Senate committee approved the attractions safety bill.

Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, told News 6 he’s now more relieved the Florida House and Senate are moving forward in keeping his son’s legacy alive and making sure no other parent has to go through what he did.

“I don’t think that one bill is going to solve every problem, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

He went on to say, “Words can’t describe the feeling I feel, man,” Yarnell Sampson said. “My child did not deserve to die.”

He said his son was a football star and an honor roll student in St. Louis.

Tyre’s father said he’s grateful, yet missing his son more and more each day.

“He didn’t go to Florida to sign up to die. He went to Florida to have fun because he was doing good in life,” Yarnell said.

“We were able to put aside politics and really focus on the safety of Floridians and visitors”

State Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis

Sampson’s mom released a statement Wednesday thanking lawmakers for passing the bill.

“My number one goal as Tyre’s mother is to make sure this horrific tragedy never repeats itself. I do not want any mother to go through what I have endured over the past year. I want to thank the Florida legislature, Senator Thompson and Representative Bracy for passing the Tyre Sampson Bill. I urge Florida’s Governor to sign this bill which will make all amusement rides safer for children.”

Nekia Dodd, Tyre Sampson's mother

Thompson, who initially filed the bill, also provided a comment following the House’s passage of the legislation.

“It is reassuring that the Florida Legislature prioritized safety on amusement rides today with a unanimous vote for the Tyre Sampson Act. We have communicated that we place value on human life and we want all individuals who choose to enjoy Florida’s amusement rides to know that they are safe. Most importantly, we honored Tyre and his family with legislation that hopefully will prevent the tragic accident that took his life from happening to anyone else.”

State Sen. Geraldine Thompson

This also comes as an evidence hearing Wednesday was canceled for lawyers of Sampson’s family in the lawsuit against the Orlando FreeFall operators.

The family previously reached a settlement in March with both ICON Park and the company that operates the ride, however, there are nearly another dozen defendants in the lawsuit, including the manufacturer and installers.

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