The mother of the 14-year-old teen who fell to his at the at a in March has spoken out today for the first time since her son’s .
an on in Orlando., mother of , who fell from the at in Orlando spoke publicly today in St. Louis, Missouri, for the first time since her son died on March 24. Sampson was in Orlando with friends during when he visited ,
slipped out of the . Emergency personnel arrived and transported Sampson to a local hospital where he succumbed to injuries sustained from his fall. in his seat on the and fell hundreds of feet to the ground below
On Tuesday, , and her attorney, Michael Haggard, spoke at a news conference in downtown St. Louis about Ms. Dodd’s son’s .
“To get a call over the phone and not to be there as a mother to comfort; that’s very disturbing,” Dodd said during the news conference. “It’s heart-wrenching. I couldn’t do anything for my son. I couldn’t touch him. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t hug him. I couldn’t do anything.”
referred to , her 14-year-old son, as her “personal teddy bear,” and called the boy a “gentle giant.” She continued by describing Sampson as a go-getter and said he was a very loving person.
Ms. Dodd said that when she received the phone call, telling her about her son’s fall, her concern was making sure there was someone to be with her son and comfort him because she was unable to be with him. said the last time she saw her son alive was when he returned home to get his charger before leaving for Orlando.
“Oh you come back to give me a hug,” she described herself saying to . “I actually said ‘my last hug.'”
“As [Tyre was] backing out my door, he turns around and says ‘I’ll see you Saturday or Sunday,'” explained Dodd. “That was my last time speaking to my son. And that Sunday I was waiting for my son to come home. Because that’s what he told me. So to get a call to say he’s not coming back.”
says her son’s “is a nightmare.”
“And it’s still a nightmare,” Dodd said.
Ms. Dodd and her attorney held the news conference after filing a civil suit in Orange County, Florida, on Monday. The suit names Funtime Thrill Rides, the and of the , , the owner and operator of the in Florida, and , where the was located; is also the entity which leased the space to the owner and operator of the .
According to the 65-page lawsuit, the There were no seatbelts on the whatsoever.‘s operators should have known that riders could be “subject to unreasonably dangerous and foreseeable risks, and that serious injury and of the occupants in the could result.” Most freefall rides feature a shoulder and a seatbelt, but the had only an over-the-shoulder .
During Tuesday’s news conference, Dodd’s attorney, Michael Haggard reiterated that the of could have been prevented had there been seatbelts on the . Mr. Haggard also stated that the operator of the neglected to post warnings about proper height and weight restrictions for potential riders.
“In their manual, it says no one can this if they are over 287 pounds,” said Haggard.
“Somebody manipulated the seats, somebody changed the size of this harness and what it can fit. So the question is who did that, when did they do that and who directed it?” Haggard asked during the news conference.
“It’s disgusting,” Ms. Dodd said. “So it’s like, you didn’t want to miss a dollar, but you stripped me of my son. Yeah, it’s disgusting.”