Six Flags Over Texas, a popular theme park, proudly touted the Texas Giant as being Six Flag’s most popular ride.  On Saturday, a 52-year old woman died after falling from the coaster at Six Flags amusement park in North Texas, according to police.
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.

Amusement parks and theme parks are under the scrutiny of one or more layers of independent examination, including state and local government, insurers, and private safety firms.  At the present time, Six Flags is conducting their own investigation.  Despite attempts by lawmakers to strengthen regulations, the amusement park industry says its safety record is excellent, considering the millions of visitors that frequent their rides annually.  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.  (One witness heard the woman ask why her safety bar clicked only once, when all the others clicked three times.) “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 was the first amusement park in the Six Flags system, opening in 1961.  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. A television report stated that about one-half of all accidents involved roller coasters.

There’s nothing more fun than going to a theme or amusement park and getting to ride different rides and see shows that are fun and family-oriented.  Our thoughts are with the family of this woman, who was out with her family for a day of fun.  Parks must ensure having their rides inspected often and making repairs as necesssary to reassure public safety.  One wonders about the safety of the rides that traveling carnivals bring to their communities.  Hopefully, they are under the same safety regulations as permanent parks.

Ft Worth Star Telegram/ Associated Press/Dallas Morning News