Former U.S. Attorney and personal injury lawyer Neama Rahmani said Saturday that the Florida amusement park where a 14-year-old fell to his death from a ride will “absolutely” be held liable.
The tragedy unfolded Thursday night when Tyre Sampson fell from the FreeFall at Orlando’s ICON Park. The ride is billed as “the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower” and is 430 feet tall.
The park, in a January release, said FreeFall carries up to 30 passengers at a time to the top, which is higher than the Statue of Liberty. It then releases them for a free fall of nearly 400 feet at speeds that top 75 mph.
After the ride reaches the top, the riders are tilted forward at a 30-degree angle before the plunge.
Sampson’s parents hired attorneys who are seeking witnesses to the horrific incident. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard were retained separately by the victim’s parents.
“The family is shocked and heartbroken at the loss of their son,” Crump said, adding that Tyre was a very likable person who made the honor roll and aspired to be an athlete.
Video of the tragedy taken from the ground shows the nearly two-and-a-half-minute ascent to the top. Before the ride began, riders are seen in their seats with a harness over their shoulders and chest. Nearly five seconds into the drop, roughly two-thirds of the way down, the video appears to show a person falling from his seat to the ground.
The ride is closed indefinitely, and the Slingshot Group of Companies, which owns and operates FreeFall, said there have been no other safety issues since it opened in December after passing an inspection. Last year, a 21-year-old maintenance technician who was not properly hooked to a safety device fell 225 feet to his death from a nearby ride at the park.
Sampson was from St. Louis and was visiting Florida with his football team. His father, Yarnell Sampson, told reporters while fighting back tears that he wants to know “what really happened.” The Orange County Sheriff’s Department says the investigation is ongoing, and Sheriff John Mina said it “appears to be a tragic accident.”