Family identifies woman killed on Six Flags ride

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by MARJORIE OWENS, TERESA WOODARD and JOBIN PANICKER

WFAA

Posted on July 20, 2013 at 4:10 PM

ARLINGTON — Witnesses said they watched in horror as a woman fell from her seat on the Texas Giant roller coaster Friday night at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.

The theme park on Saturday said it is "committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident."

"It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired,"said Six Flags spokeswoman Sharon Parker in a written statement issued at noon Saturday. "When we have new information to provide, we will do so."

Family members identified the victim as Rosy Esparza.

The accident happened at about 6:45 p.m. as Carmen Brown was next in line to ride the coaster. Brown said the woman got on the ride with her son.

"She goes up like this," Brown said raising her hand up in the air. "Then when it drops to come down that's when it released and she just tumbled ... and I said, 'That could have been me, because I don't do roller coasters.'"

Also in line was the Putman family, of Rockwall. Darlene, John and their daughters Ashley and Haley Putman stood behind Esparza and her family for an hour.

"They were laughing and talking," John said, adding that Esparza appeared to be in her 50s. The family didn't witness the fall, but said the victim's son was clearly distraught when the ride returned to the loading platform.

"He was saying 'She fell! she fell!'" Mrs. Putman recalled.

The Putmans said he tried to race onto the tracks, but workers escorted him away.

Six Flags immediately closed the ride and the surrounding area while most of the theme park remained open.

Officials at Six Flags did not reveal details about Esparza's death, but released an official statement not long after the incident:

We are deeply saddened to share that earlier this evening an adult woman died in the park while on the Texas Giant. Park medical staff and local paramedics responded immediately. Since the safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority, the ride has been closed pending further investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time.

Early Saturday, Six Flags added that the investigation into the death was continuing. "We are working closely with authorities to determine the cause of the accident," spokeswoman Shannon Parker said in a written statement.

She added that the Texas Giant ride remains closed and that the Bridgit Mendler concert scheduled for Saturday night has been canceled.

Originally an all-wooden roller coaster introduced to the park in 1990, the Texas Giant ride was redesigned with a steel track and re-opened in April of 2011 during the theme park's 50th anniversary. The ride's tallest height is 153 feet and has a drop of 147 feet.

Six Flags says the ride has "a record-breaking bank" of 95 degrees, "steeper than any wooden coaster on the planet."

Arlington police are investigating whether the woman suffered a medical emergency before the fall.

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 at Six Flags overturned in 2 to 3 feet of water about 200 feet from the end of the ride.

Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 as the first amusement park in the Six Flags system. It is 17 miles west of downtown Dallas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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