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Family of teen who died from Orlando ride honors his 15th birthday, shares developments

His father demands the ride to come down and for a permanent memorial to go up.

ST. LOUIS — It's been nearly five months since St. Louisan Tyre Sampson died after falling from a free fall ride in Orlando in March.

Aug. 17 would have been Tyre's 15th birthday.

His father Yarnell Sampson spent Wednesday morning at the Orlando site. 

He put up blue and orange balloons with the number "15" tied to the fence.

Yarnell expressed to reporters at a news conference that he is frustrated to see the ride still there.

His father demands the ride to come down and for a permanent memorial to go up.

"Why isn't there a permanent memorial here, because he's a Black young man from St. Louis, from a so-called poor city? We not a local Orange County resident, so we don't get the same treatment?" Sampson said.


Back in June, the autopsy was released. 

The report by the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death was an accident. Sampson slipped out of his seat about halfway down the FreeFall ride. 

RELATED: Autopsy: Tyre Sampson died of blunt trauma in fall from Orlando thrill ride

The autopsy showed that Sampson weighed 383 pounds when he died. The weight limit for the ride was 287.

An initial report by outside engineers hired by the Florida Department of Agriculture said sensors on the ride had been adjusted manually to double the size of the opening for restraints on two seats. 

However, Sampson wasn't secured and he slipped out of his seat about halfway down the ride.

Sampson's parents filed a lawsuit back in April, a month after the tragedy.

What's next

Sampson's attorneys, including Ben Crump, are doing their own investigation as part of their lawsuit against the ride’s owner and ICON Park.

"What have we found is appalling, we have found they put profit over safety at every turn," Crump adds. 

As the investigation continues, Crump is asking the state to expedite the case.

"We have a video that shows us everything that happens before Tyre got on the ride and after he tragically fell," Crump shared. 

The goal now is to get testimonial evidence from witnesses and employees.

"Employees and former employees came forward to our offices to tell us this was completely preventable and it was foreseeable," Crump said.

Yarnell says until then, he won't stop fighting for justice.

"I'm looking for the answers, I'm searching so I'm here for justice. Justice for Tyre, that's never going to change," he said.

Wednesday night, Sampson's mother Nekia Dodd also hosted a balloon release at East St. Louis Senior High School.

Credit: Nekia Dodd

5 On Your Side was told Sampson was looking forward to playing football for the East St. Louis Flyers this fall.

As far as what's next, Florida State Representative Geraldine Thompson says she's drafting what she's calling the 'Tyre Sampson' law and will make this her first bill on the first day of legislative session.

It would address the irregularities in this case.

"Seats being adjusted after inspection after a permit that was out of the ordinary. It was out of the ordinary the young people who were operating the ride had not been properly trained. It was out of the ordinary. The things that happened here were out of the ordinary," Thompson said.

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