'I had to do this': Settlement reached between Tyre Sampson's mother and ICON park, attorney says
ORLANDO, Fla. - Nekia Dodd, the mother of Tyre Sampson, visited ICON Park for the first time since her son's deadly fall from the Orlando FreeFall ride announcing that a settlement has been reached between the ride, park, and herself.
Her visit comes as crews are working to tear the ride down ahead of the one-year anniversary of his death. Dodd was joined by her attorneys Michael Haggard and Kimberly Wald of The Haggard Law Firm.
During the news conference – which took place shortly before 4 p.m. – Dodd and attorneys discussed reviewing employee training and shutting down rides that appear unsafe.
Both Dodd and her attorney pleaded for rides that go over 100 feet in the air to have a seatbelt and a harness.
"When he passed, I wasn't there for him," Dodd said fighting through tears. She said she wants no remains left behind of the drop tower ride once demolition begins.
In a statement, ICON Park said:
"While the FreeFall ride is not owned and was not controlled or operated by ICON Park, because it is a tenant on the property, we agree with the owner's decision to dismantle the ride and our hearts are with the family as they witness this important milestone."
Sampson, a 14-year-old St. Louis, Missouri native, was visiting Orlando, Florida, with another family for Spring Break on March 24, 2022, when he and his friends went to the amusement park.
The teenager got on the attraction that was billed as the world's tallest drop tower ride (430-feet tall) and fell out of the ride's restraints as it was coming back down, according to an investigative report.
The ride – which was relatively new, having opened in December 2021 – has been closed since his death.
A state investigation found Sampson's seat was manually adjusted to accommodate his size and he slipped through the restraints as the ride was coming down. The owners of the ride were fined $250,000 by the state for the incident and agreed to remove the ride.