Texas Giant Ride Re-Opens With New Safety Measures

Ride re-opens two months after tragic death on the ride

By Chris Van Horne
|  Sunday, Sep 15, 2013  |  Updated 11:43 AM EDT
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The Texas Giant is back open at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, two months after a woman fell to her death while on the wooden roller coaster.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 News

The Texas Giant is back open at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, two months after a woman fell to her death while on the wooden roller coaster.

The Texas Giant is back open at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, two months after a woman fell to her death while on the wooden roller coaster.

On the night of July 29, Rosa Esparza, 52, fell from a cart as it took a sharp turn. Her family recently filed a lawsuit against Six Flags alleging the park ignored dangers. They're asking for at least $1 million in damages.

But on Saturday, the ride re-opened with new safety improvements which regular riders say they noticed and say made them feel safer.

Over the last 56 days the park, engineers and its insurance company investigated Esparza's death and made the safety improvements, which the park allowed the media to see first-hand.

Park patrons were excited to have one of the steepest wooden roller coaster's on the planet back open for business.

"Yeah, definitely one my favorite rides, glad they opened it back up today," said Marvin Taylor of Dallas.

"That was the first ride we rode," said Jay Box, of Dallas. "Went in the gates, went straight to the Texas Giant.

For park regulars there were hardly an reservations about returning to the Texas Giant.

"A little at first, until we got there and saw the extra restraints," Box said, "the seat belt and they had the lap bar a little more concave, so it got snug."

Six Flags won't release the details of its investigation into Esparza's death because her family has filed suit.

But the park said in a press release earlier in the week that they did add the extra lap belt and new restraint bars.

At the park on Saturday additional warning signs were noticed, warning that a person's "physical characteristics" may prevent them from riding if the restraint bar wasn't properly in the place.

The park also added a test chair out in front of the ride's entrance. The chair allows patrons to see if they can fit in the chair with the restraint bar in its proper position. Once the bar is in proper place, a buzzer goes off saying they're good to ride the Texas Giant. A rider must also be four fee tall.

"We walked right by it," Taylor said.

Park employees said most people did walk past the chair, but flocked to it when news cameras were present.

But there was no missing another change, the safety checks after riders had boarded and before they left to experience thrills.

"They took extra time in loading every car, to double check, triple check, make sure everything is secure," Taylor said.

"Before it was a lot of kids running the ride, having fun and joking and not taking it serious," Box said. "And this time it felt like it should, it felt safer."

"Yeah, you felt safer, still the same great ride," Taylor said.

Everyone NBC 5 was able to speak with said they felt safer.

Taylor and Box said they did see a woman removed from the ride because the restraints wouldn't get into their proper positions.

In a press released earlier in the week the park's president said safety was the top priority.

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

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