Family sues after Six Flags roller coaster death

Sept. 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM
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ARLINGTON, Texas, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- A Texas family is suing Six Flags Over Texas after their relative was hurled from a roller coaster and fell 75 feet to her death, the family's lawyer said.

Rose Esparza, 52, of Dallas, was killed in July at the Six Flags amusement park in Arlington when the lap bar on her car on the Texas Giant roller coaster failed to fully lock. On the first drop the bar failed and Esparza was left to hang on for "dear life," the lawsuit states. Furthermore, Esparza's daughter and son-in-law were sitting in the car ahead of her and heard her panicked screams only to turn around and see her catapulted from the car.

Dallas-based attorney Frank Branson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Tuesday there were failures by ride operators, technical malfunctions and design flaws that led to Esparza's death.

"It's a tragedy of the highest order," Branson said. "I believe it should have been avoided and could have been avoided."

The suit, filed in Tarrant County Court, seeks more than $1 million in damages.

"We are heartbroken and will forever feel the pain and sadness of this tragic accident," said Steve Martindale, 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 climbs 14 stories in the air prior to its first drop, which hurtles riders down a 79 degree incline, the steepest for a wooden roller coaster in the world. Coincidentally, the ride reopened Tuesday after a safety inspection -- the same day the suit was filed.

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