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Florida amusement park settles lawsuit over teen's death, dismantles FreeFall ride

Attorney Michael Haggard remarks on a wrongful death lawsuit against ICON Park and Orlando Slingshot relating to the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, as Sampson's mother Nekia Dodd stands by in St. Louis in 2022. ICON Park in Orlando began tearing down the ride on Wednesday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 2 | Attorney Michael Haggard remarks on a wrongful death lawsuit against ICON Park and Orlando Slingshot relating to the death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson, as Sampson's mother Nekia Dodd stands by in St. Louis in 2022. ICON Park in Orlando began tearing down the ride on Wednesday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 15 (UPI) -- Nearly a year after a teen fell to his death from an Orlando, Florida, theme park attraction, the victim's family announced a settlement in the case this week.

On Wednesday, ICON Park began tearing down the ride from which a Missouri teen fell to his death in 2022.

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Tyre Sampson, a 14-year-old from St. Louis, died from a more than 70-foot fall from the park's FreeFall ride on March 24, 2022. Since his death, his mother, Nekia Dodd, has called for every inch of the ride to be removed.

"I hate I have to come down under these circumstances," Dodd said during a press conference at ICON Park Wednesday, reported by CBS News. "It's a bittersweet moment, you know. The ride's coming down and I'm thankful for that, but my son's not coming back."

Slingshot Orlando, which owns the 430-foot-tall ride, which the park claimed was the world's tallest drop tower ride, announced the decision to tear it down in October.

"We are devastated by Tyre's death. We have listened to the wishes of Tyre's family and the community, and have made the decision to take down the FreeFall," spokesperson Ritchie Armstrong said in a statement. "In addition, Orlando Slingshot will honor Tyre and his legacy in the classroom and on the football field by creating a scholarship in his name."

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ICON Park also put its support behind the ride's removal in a statement.

"Tyre's death is a tragedy that we will never forget. As the landlord, ICON Park welcomes and appreciates Orlando Slingshot's decision to take down the ride," the statement reads.

Dodd, Slingshot and ICON Park reportedly settled a civil wrongful death lawsuit, Dodd confirmed Wednesday. The details of that settlement have not been shared. Slingshot attorney Trevor Arnold said the operator will support legislation called the Tyre Sampson Bill, which will require that rides more than 100-feet tall have a seat belt and harness, CBS News reports. It will also block park operators from making changes to restraints without prior authorization.

An investigation into Sampson's death determined that the teen exceeded the weight limit for the Free Fall ride by nearly 100 pounds. His autopsy confirmed that he died from blunt force trauma.

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