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Tyre Sampson's mom: Son's death could have been prevented

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WFLA) — The family of the 14-year-old who died after falling from a ride at an amusement park in Orlando spoke for the first time about a recently-filed wrongful death lawsuit on Tuesday, calling for the ride to permanently be taken down.

Tyre Sampson fell from the Orlando Free Fall ride at Icon Park on March 24 while on vacation from Missouri.

Sampson’s mother and father filed a joint lawsuit on Monday against the ride’s owner, manufacturer and landlord, claiming they were negligent and failed to provide a safe amusement ride.

The boy’s mother, Nekia Dodd, spoke about the lawsuit Tuesday in St. Louis with her attorney and called for the ride to be shut down for good.

“Take the ride down completely,” she said. “Get rid of it all together. Too much of a risk.”

Michael Haggard, who is representing Dodd, said “simple oversight would have prevented” the deadly fall.

“The problem is that they designed this ride with such dangerous aspects of going 430 feet in the air without a secondary safety system,” Haggard said.

According to the lawsuit, Sampson was approximately 100 pounds over the ride’s weight limit. Investigators for the state also found safety sensors in two of the seats were manually changed.

“They manipulated the actual seats. They actually changed the seats so that somebody bigger could fit in there,” Haggard said.

Sampson’s mother and father are seeking damages in excess of $30,000 for their son’s death. They could receive a larger amount if the case goes before a jury or through a settlement.

“They don’t want anything like this to happen and we need better regulation across the federal government so that we have real rules, real inspection procedures so this never happens again,” says Haggard.

Trevor Arnold, the attorney for Orlando Slingshot, released the following statement on Monday:

“Orlando Slingshot continues to fully cooperate with the State during its investigation, and we will continue to do so until it has officially concluded.   We reiterate that all protocols, procedures and safety measures provided by the manufacturer of the ride were followed.  We look forward to working with the Florida legislature to implement change in the industry and we are also supportive of the concepts outlined by State Representative Geraldine Thompson to make changes to state law through the ‘Tyre Sampson Bill’ to prevent a tragic accident like this from ever happening again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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