When Six Flags Over Texas debuted the Texas Giant last year, many adrenaline junkies were sorely disappointed to learn that the inaugural year was cut short after a woman died on the ride. The 52-year-old woman plummeted to her death after falling out of the ride because of an improperly fitted lap bar and seat. While this is only the second death in the amusement park's history, it is making a big impact on park safety.
The woman who died fell 75 feet from the ride. She was ejected as the roller coaster make the first sharp decent, which occurs about a minute into the ride. Before landing on the roof of a tunnel, the woman struck a beam that supports the mammoth roller coaster.
Despite Six Flags' claims that lap bars being unlocked will stop a train from leaving the station, it seems as though that is what happened to this woman. An employee of the amusement park admitted that the woman's lap bar didn't appear to have properly latched, according to the employee's deposition.
The woman who was killed in the fatal accident was a larger woman. It is speculated that her size and the way she fit into the seat of the coaster might have played a part in her death. For now, a test seat is located near the entrance of the ride so that riders can ensure they can properly sit in the roller coaster train. That seat was in storage at the time of the woman's accident.
This woman's family has opted to seek compensation from Six Flags, as well as the manufacturer of the roller coaster. Her death prompted the addition of seat belts and new lap bar pads on the ride when it reopened in September of last year. Six Flags and the roller coaster manufacturer are blaming each other for the woman's death.
Anyone who rides on roller coasters is taking a risk, but proper safety procedures and equipment minimize that risk. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks, a person has a 1 in a 750 million chance of dying on a ride like this one. If your family member was one of those unlucky ones to be killed on the ride, you might choose to do as this woman's family did and seek compensation for your loss.
Source: The Dallas Morning News, "Texas Giant fatality a year ago at Six Flags could bring change" Jeff Mosier, Jul. 19, 2014