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Six Flags Sued in Roller Coaster Death

“Heartbroken” park president wants to be first in line when the deadly ride reopens this weekend.

The family of the woman who plummeted to her death while riding a roller coaster filed a lawsuit  on Tuesday against Six Flags.  Just hours after the lawsuit was filed, Six Flags officials announced the ride would reopen this weekend.

Upgraded Safety Restraints Needed

Earlier this summer, Rosa Esparza was killed while riding the Texas Giant at Six Flags over Texas. The ride was only equipped with a single safety bar, designed to be lowered all the way to a passenger’s lap. The family’s attorney, Frank L. Branson, said that such a bar would most likely only reach the abdomen of a larger person, such as Esparza. According to the complaint, Esparza’s daughter watched in horror as her mother “came out from behind the safety bar in her seat,” struggled to hang on as she dangled upside down, and was ultimately ejected from the car, falling 75 feet to her death.

The Esparza family’s wrongful death lawsuit claims that Six Flags was negligent because they (as well as the entire amusement park industry) have “known for decades the real risks and extreme dangers posed by roller coasters and other amusement rides.” Specifically, the suit alleges that a number of “previous incidents” involving lap bars at Six Flags parks across the country put the defendants “on notice of the dangers of rider-ejection posed by the Texas Giant.”

The Texas Giant has been shut down since the incident, pending an investigation by the park’s engineers, outside experts and the ride’s manufacturer. Six Flags issued a news release this week stating that the coaster will reopen with “redesigned restraint bar pads and seat belts.”

Damage Control

“We are heartbroken and will forever feel the pain and sadness of this tragic accident,” said park president Steve Martindale in the prepared statement. “Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Ms. Esparza. 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.”

However, apparently “forever” ends this weekend. “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.”

The callousness of Mr. Martingale’s glib remark only underscores what many of us worry about: For many business owners, assuaging stockholders’ fears and increasing the bottom line are more important than safety concerns or showing compassion for those they have harmed.


“Family sues Six Flags; Texas Giant to reopen this weekend” by Jeff Mosier, Dallas News, September 10, 2013.