Roller coaster to reopen after fatal accident
Six Flags is welcoming visitors back to the Texas Giant. Want a ride?
Two months after a woman fell to her death from a roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas, the amusement park is reopening its 153-foot-high New Texas Giant coaster this weekend.
But will visitors to Six Flags line up for the ride? Would you?
Fifty-two-year-old Rosa Esparza (also identified as Rosa Ayala-Goana) died on July 19 when she fell out of her seat on the roller coaster, where she was riding in the front car behind her daughter and son-in-law. According to reports, Esparza’s daughter turned around to see her mother struggling to hold on to the safety bar while upside down, then saw her ejected. Six Flags currently faces a lawsuit filed by Esparza’s family.
After Esparza’s death, tests conducted by Six Flags and by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the German maker of the coaster, found “inconsistences and intermittent failures” with the system. But the park says it has now concluded internal investigations of the accident and, after extensive testing, is ready to reopen the 15-story-high New Texas Giant this weekend.
New seat belts have been added to the ride as well as redesigned restraint-bar pads from Gerstlauer. Six Flags will also be providing a fixed coaster seat at the ride’s entrance so potential riders can test whether they’re a good fit, saying in a written statement that “guests with unique body shapes or sizes may not fit into the restraint system.”
A project manager at the roller coaster manufacturer says the company has never had problems with car safety bars on any of the roughly 50 coasters it has built around the world over the past 30 years.
Roller coaster accidents are uncommon. According to the National Safety Council, there were just over 1,200 amusement-ride injuries in 2011, about 4 percent of which caused serious personal harm. Roller coasters were responsible for about 28 percent of all incidents.
Fatalities are exceedingly rare. Statistically, you are less likely to die on a roller coaster than traveling in a car or plane or swimming in the ocean. More people are killed by lightning every year than on roller coasters.
Still, you’re even safer if you never get on the ride.
Photo: The Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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