Who could be liable for Tyre Sampson's death? Local attorney weighs in

Tyre Sampson's death is still being investigated, and local attorneys are weighing in on the topic.

A big question: if negligence is proven in Sampson's death, could there be criminal charges? Larry Gonzalez an attorney with Morgan & Morgan, who is not involved in the case, said it's up to the state attorney's office

"Typically negligence doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal standard of manslaughter unless it’s what’s called grossly negligent, that's a reckless standard, but that’s up to the state’s office if they want to do that based on their own investigation," said Gonzales.


Tyre Sampson, 14, is pictured in a provided family photo. 

The attorney said typically it would have to rise above the level of ordinary negligence.

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"A lot of times what the courts want to see is what's called intentional misconduct. Maybe you didn’t intend to kill anyone but your conduct was so reckless that that was going to be the likely result," said Gonzales.

Tyre Sampson fell out of his seat and to his death on the Orlando FreeFall ride at Icon Park last week. According to the operations manual, he was 50 lbs. heavier than the maximum weight of the ride.


Close-up view of the Orlando Free Fall ride at ICON Park in Orlando, Florida, hours after a 14-year-old boy fell to his death from the ride, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. (Willie J. Allen Jr./Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service v

"People want to ride rides that’s human nature," said Gonzales. "And you’re not reading through a 50-page contract and the fine print to see hey can I ride this ride? It’s on the employees to make sure it’s safe."

Gonzales said at most major Florida theme parks, people don't need to sign waivers to get on rides, but even if you did, you might not be found liable.

"If an employee doesn't harness you properly if an employee fails to see that you should or shouldn’t be on a ride," said Gonzales. "Those are types of things where even if you were to sign it away there are significant arguments in a court of law that at least it wouldn’t be enforceable."

The investigation is still underway and no charges have been made, but the family has hired attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard. 

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