A woman riding the Texas Giant, a roller coaster ride at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas, died on Friday, July 19, 2013, when she apparently was thrown from her seat.
Park representatives and law enforcement authorities have said that a preliminary investigation has not revealed foul play or criminal activity but did not say whether there was evidence of negligence attributable to park employees or to anything pertaining to the roller coaster itself.
At least one witness who said she saw the woman being strapped in before the ride began reported that the woman had expressed concern to a park employee that she was not securely restrained. According to the witness, the safety bar only clicked once when it came down to secure her rather than the three times she heard for other riders. The park employee reputedly told the woman that if she heard it click, then it was okay.
The roller coaster ride is touted as the world’s tallest steel-hybrid roller coaster in the world at 14 stories high with a drop of 79 degrees and a bank of 95 degrees. Another witness that day stated he heard a man who was riding behind the woman say that the woman was thrown during a steep turn. Another witness said that the safety bar released as the car came down, suggesting that she was not securely restrained or that the safety bar failed.
The woman may have riding with at least two of her children since witnesses heard two people screaming about their mother when the ride returned to the loading or start area.
Roller coaster fatalities are rare with only about 4 fatalities per year although fatalities are not tracked by hospital injury reports. Injuries are more common. For all amusement rides, there are about 4,400 injuries per year or about 20 per day in the peak summer season. Between 1990 and 2010, there were about 92,885 reported injuries on amusement rides involving children aged 16 and younger.
Most injuries are falls that occur with children getting in, off or against rides with head and neck injuries the most common. Also, most younger children or those up to age 5, are injured on rides at restaurants, malls or arcades.
Amusement park and rides at malls or arcades are often caused by malfunctioning or improperly maintained equipment. Employees who work the rides are often not much older than many of the kids who are on the rides and some are not properly trained in ensuring that all riders are safely restrained or in its proper operation.
Besides fatalities, amusement park injuries include broken limbs, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, internal injuries, disfigurement, spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
Standardized regulation is often missing for amusement park rides or for those found at your local mall. Local or state ordinances do regulate some of these rides but there are no published standards for larger rides found at the big parks according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Also, there are no reporting requirements so it is difficult to track which rides are more hazardous than others.
If you or a loved one were injured on a roller coaster or other ride, contact the Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers Firm for an evaluation of your claim and advice on your legal options.