Investigators will try to determine Saturday if a woman who died while riding a roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park in North Texas fell from the ride, dubbed the tallest steel-hybrid coaster in the world, after not being properly secured by staff, as some witnesses accounts contend.
The accident happened just after 6:30 p.m. Friday at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. Park spokeswoman Sharon Parker confirmed that a woman died while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster but did not specify how she was killed. Witnesses told local media outlets the woman fell.
"She goes up like this. Then when it drops to come down, that's when it (the safety bar) released and she just tumbled," Carmen Brown of Arlington told The Dallas Morning News. Brown said she was waiting in line to get on the ride when the accident happened.
Brown said she also witnessed the woman being strapped into the ride.
"They didn't secure her right. One of the employees from the park — one of the ladies — she asked her to click her more than once, and they were like, 'As long you heard it click, you're OK.' Everybody else is like, 'Click, click, click.' Hers only clicked once. Hers was the only one that went down once, and she didn't feel safe, but they let her still get on the ride."
Six Flags expressed sadness over the death and said it was temporarily closing the section of the park around the accident site. It didn't say how long the area would be closed. A message left for Parker by The Associated Press was not returned.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends during this difficult time," the park's statement said.
The Texas Giant reaches 14 stories high and has a drop of 79 degrees and a bank of 95 degrees. It can carry up to 24 riders. The ride first opened in 1990 as an all-wooden coaster but underwent a $10 million renovation in 2010 to install steel-hybrid rails before reopening in 2011.
Brown said she was next in line behind the woman and saw her being strapped into her seat next to her son.
"We heard her screaming. We were like, 'Did she just fall?'" Brown said.
Arlington police Sgt. Christopher Cook, the department spokesman, referred all questions to Parker. No other details were available.
In another amusement park accident Friday, a boat on an Ohio thrill ride accidentally rolled backward down a hill and flipped over in water when the ride malfunctioned, injuring all seven people on it. Operators stopped the Shoot the Rapids water ride after the accident, which occurred on the ride's first hill, the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, said.
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.