A tragic death on a Six Flags’ roller coaster has put a damper on the amusement park! What was supposed to be a fun-filled day, for a Dallas woman and her two children, took a turn for the worse when she fell from the 14-story Texas Giant.
Rosy Esparza, fell from the 23 year-old ride, originally promoted as the “tallest wooden roller coaster in the world,” reported Reuters.
While details of Esparza's fatal fall have yet to emerge, the Esparza family can potentially sue the park for wrongful death. So what will happen now? It has been a little over a month, since the tragic accident and no update on the results, since the internal investigation conducted by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides in Munsterhausen, Germany began.
According to CBS News, since amusement parks are regulated by the international Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and not a state agency, amusement parks conduct their own investigations, which means a lawsuit is not guaranteed, the likelihood of settling out of court is certain and the results of the accident may never be released.
However, if the case makes it to court, Six Flags Over Texas may be found liable for negligent operation of the Texas Giant, particularly, if they were given notice by the victim. One witness told CBS News, Esparza told the attendant about "her lap bar not being secure.”
If and when the Esparza relatives successfully sue for wrongful death, they could receive enough money to cover funeral expenses, potential future earnings, and possibly even punitive damages, if a jury finds Six Flags was somehow reckless or malicious in its actions, leading to the woman's death. Six Flags’ corporate site list The Dinn Corporation as the manufacturer of the Texas Giant.
The now-defunct company could potentially be held liable for a defective lap restraint or locking mechanism, if it's determined that was the cause of Esparza's death. However, it may be possible the cause of the fatal fall was a defective safety restraint, and the park did all it could to maintain the ride and ensure Esparza’s safety.
Amusement parks currently have no federal oversight, and regulation vary from state to state. In Texas, the Department of Insurance requires all amusement parks to carry $1 million liability insurance on each ride and have its insurance company conduct a yearly inspection. Spokesperson for the Department of Insurance, Jerry Hagins said Six Flags Over Texas was in compliance at the time of the accident.
U.S. Representative Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, pushed a bill in 2011 to restore jurisdiction over amusement parks to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but it died in committee. He's calling on Congress again to provide better oversight. He told reporters a baby stroller faced tougher federal regulations than “a roller coaster carrying a child at an excessive 100 miles an hour.”
In an inquest conducted by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, it concluded, at roughly the 54-second mark of the Texas Giant roller coaster, it reaches the apex of the first climb. Then, it descends at a 79-degree angle -- almost straight down -- for nearly 150 feet. At around 7 p.m. Friday, during this stomach-churning descent, 52-year-old Rosa Irene Ayala-Gaona was ejected from the third car and fell 75 feet before striking a metal support beam.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported her body finally came to a rest on the roof of a tunnel and Ayala-Gaona died from multiple traumatic injuries.
A project manager for Gerstlauer, Tobias Lindnar, said the company has never had problems with car safety bars on any of the roughly 50 roller coasters it's built around the world over the past 30 years.
Park spokeswoman Sharon Parker said the victim died after falling from the 14-story Texas Giant roller coaster, but she wouldn't give specifics.
Six Flags Entertainment Corp. CEO Jim Reid Anderson said although the accident did not have an immediate impact on attendance at any of its parks, he did expect to see a lag in attendance, at least, in the short term, and in particular at the Arlington Park.