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July 21, 2013

Woman’s fatal fall from Six Flags coaster probed

A woman who died while riding a 14-story roller coaster at Six Flags amusement park in North Texas apparently fell from the ride, police said.

Park spokeswoman Sharon Parker confirmed that a woman died while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster — dubbed the tallest steel-hybrid coaster in the world — but did not give specifics of what happened.

“We are committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident and will utilize every resource throughout this process,” Parker said in a statement Saturday. “It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired.”

Arlington Police Sgt. Christopher Cook told The Associated Press that police believe the woman fell from the ride at the Six Flags Over Texas park. He added that there appears to have been no foul play.

Cook also said police, fire and emergency medical services responded to the park around 6:45 p.m. Friday in reference to a woman who had fallen from a train car while riding a roller coaster. He said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was not immediately identified by authorities.

The amusement park and the Texas Department of Insurance, which approves amusement rides and ensures they are inspected, are further investigating the accident, Cook said.

Carmen Brown told The Dallas Morning News that she was waiting in line to get on the Texas Giant and witnessed the woman being strapped in — and then what ensued.

“She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that’s when it (the safety bar) released and she just tumbled,” Brown, of Arlington, told the newspaper.

Six Flags said the ride would be closed while the investigation continues.

At 14 stories high, the Texas Giant has a drop of 79 degrees and a bank of 95 degrees. It can carry up to 24 riders. It first opened in 1990 as an all-wooden coaster and underwent a $10 million renovation to install steel-hybrid rails and reopened in 2011.

Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 and was the first amusement park in the Six Flags system. It is 17 miles west of downtown Dallas. The park’s first fatality occurred in 1999. A 28-year-old Arkansas woman drowned and 10 other passengers were injured when a raft-like boat on the Roaring Rapids ride overturned in 2 to 3 feet of water.

There were 1,204 ride-related injuries reported in the United States in 2011 — about 4.3 for every million visitors — according to the National Safety Council’s most recent data. Of those, 61 were deemed serious, the March 2013 report said, and roller coasters accounted for 405 injuries.

Fatalities were not listed in the report, which was prepared for Alexandria, Va.-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Also, only 144 of the 383 amusement facilities with rides in the United States responded to the survey.

A 2005 report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated just over four people died annually on amusement rides from 1987 to 2002. The estimate includes both mobile amusement park rides and fixed-site rides.

 

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