No Foul Play Found in Six Flags Death
No Foul Play Found in Six Flags Death, Police have found no evidence of foul play in the death of a woman who fell from a 14-story roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas, a spokesman for the local police department said Sunday. But how she got loose from the ride's restraints remains a mystery.
The woman died early Friday evening after falling from the Texas Giant, a wood-and-steel roller coaster at the Arlington, Texas, theme park. The ride had undergone a $10 million renovation two years ago.
Sgt. Christopher Cook said the Arlington police department is preparing a report about the death that likely would be released Monday. He declined to release the name of the victim, but the Dallas Morning News and other news organizations have identified her as Rosy Esparza of Dallas.
Sgt. Cook said that after the report is released, the police department doesn't plan to investigate further given that the death appears to be an accident.
The state Department of Insurance doesn't investigate accidents either, leaving Six Flags with the responsibility of figuring out what went wrong.
Six Flags said it would use every resource available to determine what happened and would share more information when it is available.
Kenneth Martin, an expert on roller-coaster safety, said it could take some time for details to emerge due to the high likelihood of a lawsuit and the fact that theme parks are exempt from federal oversight.
While the state Department of Insurance is in charge of making sure each ride has insurance coverage and receives an annual safety inspection, the department doesn't investigate accidents.
In addition to annual inspections, theme parks are supposed to check the safety of each ride daily and make that log available to law-enforcement officials on request, said Jerry Hagins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance.
The Texas Giant had a sticker authorizing its safe use until February 28, 2014. Mr. Hagins says the ride is now required to be closed until it is reinspected and approved.
When it was renovated, the Texas Giant required a new prototype car and unique lap-bar restraint to handle significant gravitational forces. The designers worked with Gerstlauer Amusement Rides of Germany to create a restraint that also secures legs and ankles tightly but was still comfortable.
Tobias Lindnar, project manager for Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, told the Dallas Morning News that the company has never had problems with the safety bars in its cars. Gerstlauer has built about 50 roller coasters world-wide and no one had been seriously hurt or killed on one of them before, Mr. Lindnar said.
According to the Amusement Safety Organization, which documents amusement-park accidents, riders of the Texas Giant suffered nearly a dozen neck-related injuries in 2012 and 2013. A spokeswoman for Six Flags didn't immediately return a request to confirm the figure.
The Texas Giant climbs 153 feet, then drops almost straight down, the steepest drop of any wood-and-steel roller coaster. It was named best new ride of 2011 by Amusement Today.
Four people a year die on average while riding amusement-park rides, according to a national 2005 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.