Dodd told reporters on Tuesday that she remembered getting a call late at night on March 24, before spending a movie night with her daughter.
“To get the news on the phone, that’s devastating,” Dodd said. “I couldn’t do anything for my son, but cry over the phone. I couldn’t touch him. I couldn’t hold him. I couldn’t hug him. I couldn’t do anything. I wouldn’t wish it. On any parent.”
At another news conference Tuesday, Sampson told reporters he had already seen the horrific viral video of his son’s death before he even knew it was him.
“When I found out it was my baby, he took my breath,” Sampson said, adding that he vomited. “It took me some life too. It made me feel numb and helpless because I wasn’t there to protect my son.”
Both parents said this is not how spring break in Tyre was supposed to end.
In mourning on Tuesday, Dodd and Simpson explained to reporters who their son is and how they want him to be remembered.
“They were my teddy bear pictures,” my mother says.
She told reporters that Dodd’s last conversation with her son was by chance.
While Tyre was leaving for a trip to Florida, he forgot his charger and had to go home.
I open the door, and he goes back to his room, and he gets the little things he left. Mind you, we know boys don’t like hugs because it’s like too soft for him. I said, ‘Oh, you came back to hug me’ – I already said my last hug – “You came to mean the last hug,” she said.
As teenage boys do, Tyre rushes out the door excited about his next flight. His hug was slowing him down. “He turns and says, ‘I’ll see you Saturday or Sunday.’ That was the last time I spoke to my son,” Dodd said.
“He ended up hugging me,” she added.
“They were my teddy bear selfies,” Dodd said of her son, who was over 6 feet tall and weighed more than 300 pounds.
“Tick is the name he got from the football team. Big Ticket, basically means ticket out of St. Louis,” Dodd said.
She described her son as “the kind of kid you can’t help but talk to.”
“I wanted to get to know him—what was he thinking,” she said. “He had this magnet, like, Who is this kid? You know, very respectful, and polite.”
Dodd wants to be remembered as a “loving young man” and purposeful.
“He would have been known, but not like that. He would have been in the football arena, the NFL team, but not…that kind of way, no.”
“He was a warrior, he was smart,” says the father.
For a father who was so proud of his son, Sampson said, Tyre’s death meant losing a lot of potential.
The teen usually visits his dad for spring break, but this year, Tire was excited to go to Florida for the thrill of several theme parks, Sampson said.
“In the dictionary they have nothing to describe a father or a parent or a mother who bury their child, and there is no word to describe it. So what I feel now, it’s disgusting. It’s been days I can’t get out of bed, make myself eat, drink.”
He told himself that he had two options: fall into depression or stand up for his son.
Sampson chose the latter.
“I will speak for my son,” he said, “because he was a warrior, and he was young, and he was intelligent and cultured.”
Sampson said that the fact that Tyre was an elite athlete should not be the focus of his narrative.
“Let’s talk about Intellectual 4.0 that would have been,” Sampson said. “He could have been a doctor, a lawyer, a researcher, or an astronaut… Heaven knows no bounds if you had potential. He had a lot of potential.”
State politicians sponsor a bill in honor of the city of Tire
Dodd and Simpson represent different attorneys but filed the lawsuit together.
“It’s one lawsuit, there are co-representatives who equally represent Tyre Sampson’s estate as a result of his damages and damages for the loss of his son,” said attorney Bob Hillard, who represents Sampson alongside Ben Crump. .
The Orlando Freefall Tour has been closed since Tire’s death and will remain closed indefinitely.
Sampson said he wanted to end the trip, but Dodd said she didn’t want parents to take away the joy of kids at theme parks over her son’s death.
“If you decide to let them ride on such trips, double-check yourself,” she said. “Go up there and make sure the restraints are in place. Can your child ride? Does your child, I think, meet the qualifications? You don’t want to rob the kids from enjoying (themselves), but then at the same time… I don’t want that to happen.” This is for another family.”
Sampson described it as “meaningless” for a child to lose his life trying to have fun.
In response to Tyre’s death, Florida Representative Geraldine Thompson promised an upcoming bill in the legislature called the “Tire Sampson Act” that would prevent such incidents from occurring.
Thompson said the bill would honor Tyre’s memory and “the promise he had been waiting for, by making sure no other child would come to Central Florida for spring break and go home in a coffin.”
CNN’s Laila Santiago, Sarah Weisvelt and Holly Yan contributed to this report.