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Six Flags Death Investigation To Focus On Ride, Rider

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) - Six Flags Over Texas is conducting its own investigation into what caused a woman to fall to her death while riding one of its roller coasters.  However, once that investigation is complete, the amusement park may not share it with the public.

Experts, who spoke with CBS 11 and have worked on theme park accidents in the past, say they are not aware of any law or agency that compels the park to reveal results of a particular investigation.

Statistics show the chances of getting seriously hurt on an amusement park ride are just one in 24 million, according to an industry study.  But when it happens, as it did Friday to 52-year old Rosy Esparza, experts say they will look closely at both the equipment and the rider.

“We would also be measuring what occurred in the dynamics of the seat latching mechanism,” said expert accident reconstructionist Robert Swift.  “Whether that seat latch…whether there was a fault in that in that system.  We would also be looking at atronometrics at the weight and the size of the rider involved.”

Swint says investigators will likely measure the ride speeds and forces that riders experience.  Rides are made to fit 95-percent of all riders Swint said, but it is an issue he says the industry has been looking closely at in the last few years.

“I think it is something that needs attention, and this may be the emphasis for having that looked at more seriously.”

Since 2008, there have been 14 injuries connected to the Texas Giant, reported to the Texas Department of Insurance.  Most were bruises and strains, blamed on jostling during the ride.  Only one injury has been reported, since the ride was redesigned in 2011.

The victim’s family tells CBS 11 they have contacted attorneys for possible legal action, which could contribute to keeping the result of any investigation quiet, says attorney Carlos Soltero.  Soltero has handled a case involving a theme park in the past.

“They may be doing this in the context of a privileged investigation, in other words, they anticipate litigation, should there be litigation in the future, they may not want to disclose or keep confidential or privileged whatever the findings of the investigation itself,” said Soltero.

The president of Six Flags visited the park on Monday and said on a conference call that the roller coaster would remain closed until it is safe to ride.

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