Six Flags Over Texas has announced that its Texas Giant roller coaster is to reopen, following an incident on July 19, 2013 that led to the death of a female rider.
The park is not releasing any details of the outcome of an investigation into the accident, which saw Rosa Esparza, 52, fall from the coaster's train. Park medical staff and local paramedics were unable to revive her, and the ride was immediately shut down to allow an investigation to be carried out.
The statement from Six Flags Over Texas reads: Six Flags Over Texas today announced that it has completed the investigation of the recent accident involving the Texas Giant roller coaster, with the ride train manufacturer, internal engineers and external experts ruling out any mechanical failure of the ride. Due to litigation, the company is not releasing any further information about the outcome of the investigation.
Park officials plan to re-open the Texas Giant coaster this weekend, following the addition of incremental and overlapping safety measures for the ride that include re-designed restraint-bar pads from the manufacturer and new seat belts. As with other rides in the park, guests with unique body shapes or sizes may not fit into the restraint system. The company is providing a coaster seat at the ride entrance so guests can test their fit prior to entering the ride line.
"We are heartbroken and will forever feel the pain and sadness of this tragic accident. Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Ms. Esparza,'" said Steve Martindale, park president of Six Flags Over Texas. 'The safety of our guests and employees is our company's absolute highest priority and we try to take every reasonable precaution to eliminate the risk of accidents.'"
The Texas Giant has undergone extensive testing and has received approval from the state of Texas, Department of Insurance, to resume operation. "The Texas Giant is one of my favorite rides in the park," added Martindale. "My staff, family and I are pleased to be among the first riders as we prepare to re-open the Texas Giant for our guests."
Six Flags has successfully operated regional theme parks for 52 years and takes great pride in the quality of its safety record, ride maintenance and employee training, safely delivering approximately 200 million rides each year. According to data gathered by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the industry safely provides approximately 1.7 billion rides annually in the United States and the likelihood of a person being seriously injured on a permanently-located amusement park ride is extremely remote.
Despite the park's decision to reopen the Texas Giant, the family of Ms. Esparza yesterday filed suit against Six Flags, claiming negligence on the part of its staff. The suit claims that inspections carried out since Esparza's death "showed that various parts of the security systems on the ride were experiencing inconsistences and intermittent failures."
The Texas Giant reopened to the public on April 22, 2011, having undergone an extensive, $10 million overhaul during over eighteen months out of action. This included the installation of an all-new steel track, as well as a steep 79-degree drop.
The coaster's height was increased by 10 feet to 153 feet, with the train hitting a top speed of 65 miles per hour following the first drop. In total, some 4,700 feet of new track were added during the renovation work. The ride originally opened in 1990 and was the tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster in the world at the time.