Roller coaster accident kills woman at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington

by Eric Pearson

A Texas woman, Rosy Esparza, fell to her death from the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas near Dallas on July 19th. Witnesses claim that the woman complained about the operation of her safety bar. She apparently was thrown from the ride when the coaster took a sharp turn. The Texas Giant was originally designed in 1990 as an all wood roller coaster. It was redesigned with a steel track and reopened in April 2011 to mark the Arlington theme park’s 50th anniversary. At its highest point, the roller coaster is 153 feet and has a drop of 147 feet, according to the theme park. The ride is currently closed while the accident is being investigated.

In a separate incident the same day, at least seven people were injured when a ride at Cedar Pointe amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio malfunctioned. Witnesses say that a boat on the Shoot the Rapids water ride rolled backwards down the ride’s first hill and flipped over in several feet of water. Passengers who were belted into the ride had to be rescued. The accident is under investigation, and the ride will stay closed until the investigation is concluded.

Unfortunately, the accidents at Six Flags and Cedar Pointe are hardly isolated incidents. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tracks statistics for amusement ride accidents at traveling carnivals, on portable inflatable attractions, and on fixed-site amusements such as roller coasters. There were more than 15,000 amusement ride-related injuries in 2005 in the U.S. That was an increase from 10,580 injuries in 2000. According to the CPSC, about five people die every year from mobile and fixed amusement ride injuries and other five die from inflatable ride injuries. The highest number of fatalities came on roller coasters.

A more recent study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked at Consumer Product Safety Commission information on youngsters who were taken to emergency rooms for amusement ride injuries during a 20-year period. Their study, published in the May issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics, looked at fixed-site rides, such as those at major amusement parks, as well as mobile rides, which included rides at local carnivals, state fairs and mall rides like those found in shopping mall arcades.

The researchers looked at data on 92,885 children under the age of 18 who were treated for amusement park type of injures in emergency rooms from 1990 to 2010. More than 70% of the problems occurred during the summer months, when amusement parks are open and state fairs are being held. That averages out to 4,423 injuries each year and 20 injuries daily from the summer season of May through September. The injuries ranged from head and neck problems to injuries to the face, arms and legs. Soft tissue injuries – damage to ligaments, muscles and tendons – were the most common. It was not just the bigger rides that caused problems, researchers noted. Data showed that even mall rides could be dangerous.

The study’s authors noted that parents can also do their part to help keep children safe by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Always follow all posted height, age, weight and health restrictions.
  • Make sure to follow any special seating order and/or loading instructions.
  • Always use safety equipment such as seat belts and safety bars. If the equipment does not seem to be working properly, notify an attendant and insist that you be let off of the ride.
  • Make sure children keep hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
  • Know your child. If you don’t think he/she will be able to follow the rules, keep him/her off the ride.
  • Trust your instincts. If you are worried about the safety of the ride, choose a different activity.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting to protect children

To successfully bring a claim involving an injury or death at a traveling carnival, on a portable inflatable attractions, or at a fixed-site amusements such as roller coasters at a theme park, you need an experienced, educated attorney on your side. You also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and reached settlements in hundreds more. In the year 2010 alone, we settled personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson also possesses the financial resources to take on personal injury cases from start to finish. In many cases, our firm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an amusement park accident, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out a free legal consultation form.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.