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Six Flags Denies Liability in Fatal Amusement Park Accident

Rose Esparza fell to her death on July 19 in a freak amusement park accident at the Six Flags in Fort Worth, Texas. Esparza fell from her seat on the Texas Giant roller coaster, which rises 14 stories high. Her children were seated near her on the ride and witnessed the tragic accident.

The family filed a wrongful death suit against Six Flags. The suit detailed Esparza’s last moments, claiming that she was holding on “for dear life” before she was thrown from the ride. She was in the front left seat of the train’s second car, behind her daughter and son-in-law. The car had no seat belt or shoulder harness, only a lap bar to restrain riders. The suit alleges problems with the ride’s security system, specifically that the green-light system experienced inconsistencies and intermittent failures that shouldn’t have allowed the train to be dispatched unless each safety bar restraint was in the proper position. Furthermore, the suit claims that inspections later found there were inconsistencies in the relative locking positions of the safety bars on the train’s cars. The family seeks more than $1 million in relief.

Six Flags denies liability, noting that it complied with inspection and maintenance procedures recommended by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the German company that designed and built the ride and green-light system. The filing reads, “Six Flags believes it met all of the manufacturer’s maintenance and operational instructions, applicable to ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials International) 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 Texas Giant coaster was shut down after the incident then reopened two months later, once an investigation concluded that no mechanical failure was involved in the accident. Six Flags later added redesigned restraint bar pads from Gerstlauer, as well as new seat belts. A test seat was also installed at the ride entrance, allowing potential riders the opportunity to test their fit before entering the line. A sign warns that guests with “unique body shapes and sizes” may not fit into the ride’s restraint system.

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