Nokia Dodd, mother of Tyre Sampson, makes remarks during a press conference announcing a wrongful death lawsuit. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
April 26 (UPI) — The family of a teenager who fell more than 100 feet from a Florida amusement park ride said Tuesday his death could have been prevented with a seatbelt and better safety checks.
Nekia Dodd, the mother of Tyre Sampson, blamed FreeFall ride operators and the manufacturer of the ride, Funtime Handels GmbH, for her son’s death. The family filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against ICON Park in Orlando, Fla., on Monday.
“This could’ve been prevented. It should’ve been prevented. So as an operator, you have a job to check those rides, you know. The video I saw, that was not done. And if it was done, it should’ve been done more than once,” she said, according to ABC News.
Tyre’s family said the 14-year-old boy could have survived if there had been a seat belt on the ride. While the ride has a harness, it does not have safety belts which the lawsuit said would have cost $22 for each seat.
Dodd said the family wants justice.
“I want the ride gone. Gone. Because it shouldn’t have taken a child, or anyone,” she said.
According to the lawsuit, there were also no signs indicating the maximum weight of 287 pounds for the ride. The suit notes that Sampson was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 380 pounds.
Investigators listed “operator error” last week as the primary suspected cause in Tyre’s death.
ICON Park said in a statement, “We are deeply troubled by the preliminary findings of the State’s investigation. ICON Park is committed to providing a safe, fun experience for families.”
The St. Louis teen died March 24 after falling from the 430-foot-tall tower ride that raises riders to the top before dropping them at high speed to a slowed stop.