Texas woman's roller coaster death investigated

The Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas is where a woman fell to her death, Friday, July 19.

The German manufacturer that made the Texas Giant roller coaster, on which a woman died Friday, will investigate the accident at Six Flags Over Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas — A German roller coaster maker is sending officials to a North Texas amusement park to inspect a ride after a woman fell to her death.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Gerstlauer Amusement Rides in Munsterhausen, Germany, will investigate what led to Friday's accident at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

Witnesses said the woman expressed concern about the coaster's safety bar not completely engaging as the ride was starting.

But a project manager for Gerstlauer, Tobias Lindnar, says the company has never had problems with car safety bars on any of the roughly 50 roller coasters it's built around the world over the past 30 years.

Park spokeswoman Sharon Parker says the victim died after falling from the 14-story Texas Giant roller coaster, but she wouldn't give specifics.

"We are committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident and will utilize every resource throughout this process," Parker said in a statement Saturday. "It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired."

Woman dies on Six Flags roller coaster

Woman dies on Six Flags roller coaster
Duration: 1:03 Views: 225k MSN News/Newsy

Arlington Police Sgt. Christopher Cook told The Associated Press that police believe the woman fell from the ride at the Six Flags Over Texas park. He added that there appears to have been no foul play.

Cook also said police, fire and emergency medical services responded to the park around 6:45 p.m. Friday in reference to a woman who had fallen from a train car while riding a roller coaster. He said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was not immediately identified by authorities.

The Dallas Morning News reported Saturday that the family of the woman identified her as Rosy Esparza of Dallas.

The amusement park and the Texas Department of Insurance, which approves amusement rides and ensures they are inspected, are further investigating the accident, Cook said.

Carmen Brown told The Dallas Morning News that she was waiting in line to get on the Texas Giant and witnessed the woman being strapped in — and then what ensued.

"She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that's when it (the safety bar) released and she just tumbled," Brown, of Arlington, told the newspaper.

Six Flags said the ride would be closed while the investigation continues.

At 14 stories high, the Texas Giant has a drop of 79 degrees and a bank of 95 degrees. It can carry up to 24 riders. It first opened in 1990 as an all-wooden coaster and underwent a $10 million renovation to install steel-hybrid rails and reopened in 2011.

Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 and was the first amusement park in the Six Flags system. It is 17 miles west of downtown Dallas. The park's first fatality occurred in 1999. A 28-year-old Arkansas woman drowned and 10 other passengers were injured when a raft-like boat on the Roaring Rapids ride overturned in 2 to 3 feet of water.

Also Friday, an Ohio amusement park's thrill ride malfunctioned when a boat accidentally rolled backward down a hill and flipped over in water, injuring all seven people on it. Operators stopped the Shoot the Rapids water ride after the accident, said officials with Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.

There were 1,204 ride-related injuries reported in the United States in 2011 — about 4.3 for every million visitors — according to the National Safety Council's most recent data. Of those, 61 were deemed serious, the March 2013 report said, and roller coasters accounted for 405 injuries.

Fatalities were not listed in the report, which was prepared for Alexandria, Va.-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Also, only 144 of the 383 amusement facilities with rides in the United States responded to the survey.

A 2005 report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated just over four people died annually on amusement rides from 1987 to 2002. The estimate includes both mobile amusement park rides and fixed-site rides.

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