Missouri boy dies at amusement park, lawmakers set to create new bill in his name

Florida lawmakers will honor the Missouri teenager who died after his fall in the upcoming Orlando FreeFall legislative session with a new bill in his name.

On Wednesday afternoon, family and friends gathered on what would have been the teenager’s 15th birthday as State Rep. Geraldine Thompson announced she would introduce the ‘Tire Sampson Act’. to improve driver safety on rides.

The bill is named after the teenager who died during a ride at ICON Park in Orlando in March 2022, while visiting from St. Louis, Missouri, for spring break. His family wants the carousel taken down. “I try to give respect to the dead. He deserved it because he didn’t promise to die. He signed up for a ride and some fun and that led to something else,” said Yarnell Sampson, the late teenager’s father, “He was my only child. That was it for me.

Sampson’s father also said he was “totally invested in this situation” and in closing the ride.

The lawmaker said her proposal would prevent rides from being changed as they were for the ride the boy fell off.

“The things that happened here were out of the ordinary,” Thompson said. “The seats being adjusted after inspection after a permit – it was out of the ordinary. It was out of the ordinary that the young people operating the ride were not properly trained, it was out of the ordinary. It was unusual that signs regarding height and weight requirements were not posted so Tire could make his own decision – this was unusual.

An inquest into the boy’s death determined that the ride operator made “manual adjustments” to a pair of seats, including the one the teen was sitting on at the time of his death. Sampson, who weighed 380 pounds, also weighed nearly 100 pounds. above the weight limit for the trip.

An autopsy later determined that Sampson had died of blunt force trauma. His death was described as an “accident”.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried shared a proposed framework for the bill, which includes a ban on adjusting safety sensors beyond the manufacturer’s maximum settings as well as increasing safety signage display requirements.

Tire Sampson’s father, Yarnell Sampson, and mother, Nekia Dodd, filed a 65-page lawsuit against several companies involved in the design, development, construction and operation of the ride. They called for accountability and the permanent closure of the ride.

If the bill passes the legislature and is signed into law, it will come into force on July 1, 2023. Legal representation for The Slingshot Group, the company that owns the ride Sampson fell from, expressed support for the bill .

Harold B. McConnell