Six Flags Over Texas was the site of a tragedy today when a woman died while riding the New Texas Giant. The park hasn’t released details about the accident or how the woman died, but they did release a statement:
“We are deeply saddened to share that earlier this evening an adult woman died in the park while on the Texas Giant,” wrote Sharon Parker, communications manager for Six Flags Over Texas. “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.”
My prayers and condolences go out to the family. No matter the details, this a tragedy and I can’t imagine what they must be going through.
Eyewitness Accounts of the New Texas Giant Accident
It’s only natural to wonder how this happened. At this point, all we have are the eyewitness accounts that are surfacing on the web. The WFAA news video below includes the account of a woman that claims she saw the accident.
There were also a few tweets by riders who saw the accident happen. They were highlighted on the local ABC affiliate WFAA.
Literally just witnessed someone fly off of the Texas Giant two seats in front of me.
…restraint came undone, coaster turned and she was gone
Statement About Clicking Restraints Doesn’t Make Sense
The eyewitness from the video above shared an exchange that she overheard between the woman who fell from Texas Giant and a ride op. She claims that the woman “didn’t feel secure because she only heard one click when pulling down her restraint while others heard more clicks”. She went on to say that the ride op assured her that she was fine as long as she heard the one click and did not help her tighten her restraint.
New Texas Giant uses Gerstlauer trains with hydraulic restraints. They move in a smooth motion with no clicking noises. Gerstlauer’s press material for their hybrid coaster train describes the restraints:
The cars feature four self-supporting seats with T-shaped lapbars. The use of redundant hydraulic cylinders ensures that each lap-bar can be infinitely adjusted and offers maximum security. – Gerstlauer’s Hybrid Coaster Train Brochure (PDF)
So, this account doesn’t add up. I only highlight it here so that people will pause before taking this account to heart; which unfortunately has already began. Fingers are being pointed every which way before the hard facts have been presented.
We should all wait before making any judgments about what caused this horrific accident. Again, my prayers and condolences go out to the woman’s family and friends. I hope that the investigation into the accident reveals the cause and Six Flags works to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
About New Texas Giant
I traveled out to Six Flags Over Texas to ride the New Texas Giant on the first day it was reopened to the public back in 2011. It’s easily among the best roller coasters I’ve ridden and highly regarded in the industry.
It was originally built in 1990 as a wooden roller coaster, but received a massive make-over which entailed adding steel track that allowed for more thrilling elements. It does not have any loops, but it does have areas with extreme banking including a 95-degree banked overturn, a steep 79-degree first drops, and a height of 153-feet.
One Possible Cause of the Texas Giant Accident
With regards to the terrible accident that happened on Texas Giant on Friday, there’s been a lot of speculation. While we still don’t have details, speculation by those in the coaster enthusiast community point to the woman’s body shape and this video reconstructing an older accident.
This COULD show what might have happened:
If, and again I do mean IF, this video depicts what might have happened then the angle at which the restraints need to come down needs to be increased. Also, a seat belt (as a measuring device) could be added. If a ride operator couldn’t get the belt to fasten into the lap bar, then the rider wouldn’t be allowed to ride.
Also, from what I’m finding it is highly unlikely that the restraint actually came open. Eyewitnesses even stated that when the train returned the restraint was in the down position.
REMINDER: This is all still complete speculation and we’ll have to wait for the details of the investigation to be sure.