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The Texas Giant Reopens Nearly 2 Months After Tragedy

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
Bud is the most veteran reporter at CBS 11 News with 42 years in m...
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ARLINGTON (CBS 11 NEWS) - It was designed to provide a scare for fun, not scare someone to death. The Texas Giant roller coaster reopened at Six Flags in Arlington nearly two months after a woman was flung from it to her death.

The Texas Giant boasts the steepest drop of any wooden roller-coaster anywhere — 79-degrees from 14 stories up. And it was during that drop that Rosa Esparza was flung out of the car and killed on July 19.

Rosa Esparza was thrown from The Texas Giant at Six Flags Flags Over Texas in Arlington. (credit: Esparza family)

Rosa Esparza was thrown from The Texas Giant at Six Flags Flags Over Texas in Arlington. (credit: Esparza family)

This week her family sued Six Flags; on the same day the park announced the ride would reopen today with some new safety measures.

Size is an issue; riders have to fit into a new test seat at the ride entrance to make sure they’re not too big to ride. They must pull a replica T-bar security device forward enough to trigger a “beep” in a receiver before they can queue up to ride. Size proved to be a problem for some fans, such as Heath Barnes. “No, I can’t fit in the ride. the new restraints won’t fit. Even though I rode it several times before 2-3 days before they closed it,” he said.

The Texas Giant is a hybrid; some metal infrastructure but mostly it’s wood because fans say wooden roller coasters are scarier.

Before the accident there was only the T-bar to keep you in. Now Six Flags has added seat belts. It also provides new warning lights to make sure the T-bar is snug. In fact, on my trip ride operators reopened the car in which I was riding. We went through the belting-in process again. Seats are contoured, no longer bench-style. During the ride itself I could feel the T-bar pinning me but was not aware of the seat belt being tugged-on. People who are regular riders tell me they got the thrill they were looking for.

Six Flags was unable to provide a spokesperson willing to speak to CBS 11 News on-camera, but said the park’s president rode the Texas Giant before the ride reopened.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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