ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tire Sampson, a Missouri middle school football player who at 14 was already 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed more than 136 kilos (300 pounds), died after falling from a very high attraction in Florida.
His family’s attorneys want to know if negligence due to his size, or other factors, played a role in his death.
“This young man was athletic and big. He had no way of knowing,” Bob Hilliard, a Texas attorney representing Tyre’s mother, Nekia Dodd, said in an interview Saturday. “This will be a case of lack of supervision and lack of training. A matter of absolute negligence.”
On Saturday, investigators were still looking into what happened Thursday night, when Sampson fell from his seat from a 430-foot-tall amusement park ride, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty. la Libertad, installed on a busy street in the heart of Orlando’s tourist district, not far from Disney World.
The ride lifts riders to that height, tilts them so they face the ground for a moment or two, and then plummets toward the ground at speeds of about 75 miles per hour (121 kilometers per hour) or more.
Renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who works with Hilliard and represents Tyre’s father, Yarnell Sampson, said the family is “shocked and heartbroken at the loss of their son.”
“This young man was the kind of son everyone expects: an honor roll student, a budding athlete, and a kind-hearted person who cared about others,” Crump said in a statement Saturday.
Orange County police and the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates Florida attractions at all but the largest amusement parks, declined to comment Saturday other than to say the investigation remains ongoing. .
In a statement, Icon Park amusement park said it is fully cooperating with investigators and Orlando’s FreeFall attraction will be closed indefinitely.
“We are heartbroken by the incident that took the life of one of our guests. We offer our condolences and deep sympathy to his family and his friends,” read a statement from the SlingShot Group, which operates the attraction.