Roller Coaster Suit Faces Six Flags Resistance
FORT WORTH (CN) - Six Flags Entertainment denies it was at fault in the death of a Dallas woman who fell 75 feet to her death on the Texas Giant roller coaster.
The family of Rosa Esparza sued the Grand Prairie, Texas-based amusement park operator in Tarrant County District Court last month, seeking damages for wrongful death and negligence. They said Esparza was attending the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in Arlington for the first time with her family on July 19. Esparza allegedly struggled to hold on to the roller coaster car while in an upside-down position in front of the safety bar.
"Esparza died of multiple traumatic injuries caused by her horrific ejection from the roller-coaster car and being thrown into the support piling and onto the roof of the tunnel," the complaint states. "Her daughter and son-in-law were forced to complete the ride - for what seemed like an interminable time, knowing that Rose Esparza had been thrown out of the ride, and not knowing whether she was dead or seriously injured and in need of immediate medical attention."
Inspections of the roller-coaster cars later found "disturbing anomalies," according to the complaint.
"During the inspections, there were inconsistencies in the relative locking positions of the safety bars in various seats in the car in which Rosa Esparza had been riding, and inconsistencies and intermittent failures in the green light system that was supposed to confirm the correct placement of the safety bars for the seats of the car," Esparza's family says. "The Six Flags defendants have now admitted that, after these inspections, they replaced a 'limit switch' for a restraint in a seat in the very car in which Mrs. Esparza was riding because they found the switch to be defective."
Six Flags filed an answer with the court on Oct. 4, denying all of the allegations. Specifically, it claimed the independent contractor defense as it neither designed nor manufactured the roller coaster train or its restraint systems.
"Defendants relied upon the expertise of the independent contractors it hired with regard to the design and manufacture of the ride and trains including the passenger restrain system," the answer states. "The passenger restraint system, including the limit switch and the green light system referenced by the plaintiffs in their petition, was designed and manufactured by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH."
Six Flags says 2.5 million people have ridden the Texas Giant since its reintroduction in 2011,, and no previous incidents of this type have occurred.
"Six Flags believes it met all of the manufacture's maintenance and operations instructions, applicable ASTM standards and all the requirements of Texas law as evidenced by the fact that the new Texas Giant roller coaster had received a Certificate of Inspection indicating same from an independent inspector just a few months before the incident involving Mrs. Esparza," the complaint states.
Employees for Six Flags also acted reasonably under the circumstances when the cars rolled back into the station, the amusement park operator says.
Attorneys for Six Flags did not respond to a request for comment.
The Texas Giant is 14 stories tall, with a 79 degree drop and banking of over 95 degrees, according to Six Flags' website. The wooden roller coaster was first built in 1990.