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Accident claims life of Texas Giant rider; Cedar Point mishap injures several

July 19, 2013, 7:02 PM · Six Flags Over Texas tonight is confirming the death of a female visitor who apparently fell from the Texas Giant roller coaster this evening.

Texas Giant
The Texas Giant in a previous season. Photo by James Rao.

The Texas Giant is a hybrid coaster that debuted in 2011, after Rocky Mountain Construction rebuilt a steel track atop the original wooden structure built by the Dinn Corporation. It reaches a height of 153 feet with a drop of 147 feet and a top speed of 62 miles per hour. The coaster does not invert, and offers a lap bar as a safety restraint.

Six Flags Over Texas announced that the ride is closed and will remain closed pending an investigation.

In addition, a boat on the Shoot the Rapids ride at Cedar Point apparently crashed this evening, injuring up to 10 seven riders, according to a local newspaper.

The boat appears to have slid backward down the lift hill and turned or flipped, leading to at least one serious injury.

Update, 7/21: The woman killed on Texas Giant has been identified as Rosy Esparza of Dallas. In the Cedar Point incident, the one person who was transported to a local hospital for treatment of a head injury now has been released.

Replies (15)

July 19, 2013 at 7:16 PM · What a tragedy. I'm sure we won't find out exactly what happened until the investigation is concluded.

However, having ridden the Giant in the past, I know that there's a single lap bar.
This is complete speculation, but I feel like if there's a significant difference in the size of the riders in a car, there's a large gap in between the smaller rider and the bar.

Regardless, my thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and friends.

July 19, 2013 at 8:09 PM · IMO I think that, for safety's sake, parks should go back to using seat-belts along with the lap bar as they used to on coasters like this. Not sure if it had to do w/the size of the rider or if the bar just wasn't down far enough, either way, they should install seat-belts back on the ride. I feel more secure that way. Additionally, if the seat-belt doesn't reach across to fasten, the person should be dismissed from the ride. Very sad this had to happen.
July 19, 2013 at 8:09 PM · The description in the news is odd then, if it is a single lapbar, because they said she was sitting with someone, and "her" restraint only clicked once, and then they said "the restraint flew off", and the coaster "turned over", and she "fell out".

How the coaster turned over if it has no inversions, I can't say.

Someone else said this: "“She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that’s when it (the safety bar) released and she just tumbled,” said Carmen Brown of Arlington. Brown said she was waiting in line to get on the ride when the accident happened."

I don't know how someone waiting in line could see the woman fall out -- so I guess she was repeating something she was told by a rider, and may have misunderstood.

With a single bar, if the person next to her didn't fall out, there may be something more to the story. I'm surprised the ride didn't include a seat belt in addition to the lap bar.

July 19, 2013 at 8:33 PM · Each rider has an individual lap bar. So if one bar malfunctioned, the rider seated next to them wouldn't be affected. It "clicks" into place.
July 19, 2013 at 8:52 PM · I was thinking this coaster had two separate, individual lap bars in each seat. It's been several years since I rode it, but I have very vivid memories of going down that first hill with "just" a lap bar, and I remember it being the curved kind that fit against me pretty tightly, with handholds at the top. Again, it's been a few years, so I could be wrong, but that's how I recall it.

I feel badly for the woman's family and for everyone else involved (other riders, ride operators, etc.). But I just got home from a park-heavy trip (six parks in nine days!), and even if this had happened before my trip, I'd still be riding those coasters.

July 19, 2013 at 10:02 PM · It has been a couple years for me too, but I do remember having my own lap bar. Seems like it was just a black, padded pull down. Nothing real unique as I recall. And while the Giant doesn't go upside down, it does have a couple of fierce 90 degree turns that could certainly throw someone around.


July 20, 2013 at 2:10 AM · Having just visited SFoT over Memorial Day 2013, as well as the past two years, I remember very well each side of each car had its own independent lap bar, which adjusted for the size of the rider. At no time did I ever feel unsafe on this ride, but I can only imagine how all involved in this tragic event feel right now, including ride ops and everyone waiting in line when the tragedy unfolded. Having been on this ride several times myself, I eagerly await the results of the investigation. My thoughts are with the family of the victim.
July 20, 2013 at 2:28 AM · The roller coaster was redesigned back in 2011, the seats are different now, they are built to be like a horse saddle hints "Texas" each person has their own safety bar and NOT a seat belt to go along with the bar, its possible for only one persons bar to come up and not the others. I have rode the roller coaster many times, also the witness that made a statement was a seat or two behind her & said that the woman told the worker that her bar did not click twice. When you first pull down the bar yourself it clicks once then when they do a check they push down again and it clicks once more. The woman was also heavier set so it was possible her bar didn't lock correctly or was not pushed down far enough. Plus Charles you made a comment about how her restrain came up if there isnt any inversions, but it does make since for her bar coming up when the roller coaster came around its sharpest corner,just like someone said when it was coming down thats when it released, I believe her bar wasnt pushed down all the way so when the roller coaster came from its highest peak all her weight came forward releasing the bar and when the corner came up seconds later she flew off. Also from where your waiting to get on next you can see everything so many people saw when she fell off, and then probably assumed when her bar came up but like you said theres no possible way they saw exactly were it was released.
July 20, 2013 at 6:12 AM · Clearly, the restraint system failed here, as the woman was not restrained into her seat throughout the ride. The question to be answered is: was the failure operational or of design? Meaning, was the lap bar not properly deployed, or was the design of the restraint system insufficient for this rider? The answer to that question will the determine how Six Flags and the owners of similar coasters respond, going forward.
July 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM · A ride manufacturer referring to Cedar Fair's ridiculous obsession with seat belts once said to me "Seat belts have never saved anyone on an amusement park ride when there has been an incident". Seat belts are unnecessary equipment that slow down the operation of rides.

There is clearly a lot of comments from confused people on many sites because they are sharing their experiences from the old Texas Giant, not the "NEW Texas Giant". The old wooden variety used trains from PTC with ratcheting lap bars that clicked.

New Texas Giant doesn't use a ratcheting lap bar system, so there are no clicks heard. These trains use a hydraulic locking system that allows the restraint to lock in any position thus making it safer. There is nothing in the design to even make the clicking noise, so the witness statement about the clicks makes no sense.

July 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM · Regarding witness statements, I've personally been through incidents where witnesses have made statements to the media that have absolutely no grounding in reality. In traumatic incidents things happen fast, people are stressed and/or grieving, and so memories can be unreliable. Cynically, I also know some people will say anything to be quoted in the news, and the media will latch onto statements that make for a good story. I'd take witness statements with a lot of healthy skepticism until the investigation is complete.
July 20, 2013 at 4:06 PM · It makes me mad that after the woman's attempts to alert the ride operators that she didn't feel secured, they didn't take her seriously. Keep in mind that this tragic event wasn't caused by the ride itself, but by the restraints not being secure (the person in charge of securing the lap bar's responsibility.) My heart goes out to those affected by this tragedy, and hopefully this will teach ride operators to use more care when securing passengers.
July 20, 2013 at 7:11 PM · - Hold on there - They didn't take her seriously?

If the witness statements in the press are credible then ride operators were aware of the situation, had a conversation with her and she ultimately made the decision to ride and trust their judgement that the restraint was locked and closed. Keep in mind these trains have electronic sensors to indicate that each restraint has been lowered enough and is locked.

However, if she didn't feel safe then she could've said "I'd like to get off."

July 20, 2013 at 8:16 PM · Regarding the other reveiws on this I believe that there were no clicks that were reported but instead the woman an the ride felt unsafe and had a conversation with an attendant near the ride. I also think that the "eyewitnesses" in line that say they saw her harness unlatch are confused because from what I can see her harness unlatched before most eyewitnesses said.
July 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM · I believe the person who was on the ground who said she witness the rider falling out, contrary to the comments by some, is not just relaying information she heard. Our park has a similar ride which is faster but not as high but it is a steel coaster. Near the end of the ride when it comes off the last hill, it gives that feeling as if your being lifted,comes down, then it tilts to the side before entering into the gate. Many high speed coasters do this. I believe this is where she fell out based on witness accounts. At this point you can normally see inside the cars. I don't believe her account is a second-hand account. And based on the reaction of the storyteller's family member in the video, it looks as if she is tired of hearing the account. It is a shocking thing to see and something that the witnesses nor the women's family will ever get over.

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