Woman dies riding Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas

Posted Friday, July 19, 2013 9:27 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington has confirmed an adult woman died while riding the Texas Giant Friday night. While news of the death quickly spread across Twitter, few details were confirmed as of 8 p.m.

Read more from The Dallas Morning News and WFAA/Dallas.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:40 AM

RideMan said:
Personally, I think there is a bigger story here. If we assume for the moment that something went wrong with the restraint on the Giant, perhaps the more moorland question is one of the wisdom of building a coaster where the rider restraints are nt fault tolerant. We are seeing rides now where an unrestrained rider has basically no chance of making it back to the station alive. This is not traditionally how rides are built, and it suggests to me that if the rider restraints have I feed become this critical, perhaps some of the design considerations ought to be revisited...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

This is an excellent point. The other thing that I have to wonder is given this case, are we taking enough care into designing the restraints that we are putting this much responsibility on to make sure they are foolproof. Case in point. A few weeks ago we had a jetliner crash land. Almost everyone survived that crash. Why? In the design of the airliner a great deal of care was taken to make certain that a crash was survivable. In the case of the airplane, probably several hundred engineers worked on the seats, seatbelt, attachments, etc. Yet in the rollercoaster world, how many engineers are actually working on the ride vehicles. And how many different restraint systems have been devised. Aside from PTC lapbars, arrow OTSR's, and a few others, it's almost like every ride has its own system. But think about a car. How many different systems exist there?

Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:49 AM
nasai's avatar

ThemeDesigner said:

RideMan said:

As for lap bars popping open...

I know that there have been cases of ratchet bars partially unlatching mid-ride. I know Thunder Run's original train was known to have that problem,

I don't know when they got a 'new' train but this happened to me in 2003 on my way to Stark Raven Mad (yes, THAT Stark Raven Mad). Worse than that, on the previous circuit my seatbelt unknowingly disengaged mid-course (I discovered it when I got back to the station). If both had happened on the same ride I would have been in trouble come the 'bump' that happens after the first turn.

I was with you, so I can certainly vouch for the occurrence.

The Flying Turns makes all the right people wet - Gonch

Sunday, July 21, 2013 1:39 AM

I don't remember what year it was, but Thunder Run's old train was red, trailered, had the hard foam seat backs like Mean Streak, and ran like crap. The new train was yellow, had soft seats, and ran great.

As for the design of amusement rides...

Every ride has a different action, and a single restraint design would not be appropriate on all rides. ASTM provides some specific recommendations on restraint configuration based on the predicted forces exerted by the ride, but the list of considerations is much longer. Ultimately, in order to comply with the design standard, the ride needs to be designed by a qualified person, and the design process needs to include a documented risk analysis using generally accepted engineering practice. This is the same process used in many industries where designs are safety critical.

In theory, at least, we've got biodynamic specialists looking out for us. At the very least, I know many companies perform real world testing on their restraint designs to make sure that they are effective.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

    /X\        _      *** Respect rides. They do not respect you. ***
/XXX\ /X\ /X\_ _ /X\__ _ _ _____

Sunday, July 21, 2013 6:25 AM

My prayers do go out to the family of the victem.

I am curious to see the findings of the investigation before I make judgement. Like any accident, I'm sure that anybody who had anything to do with the coaster is thiking about what they did that could have potentially caused the accident. It is possible that it could have been a fluke thing like a tiny fracture caused by the Texas heat in a bolt or clip or a chipmunk thet decided to munxh on a wire to the sensor.

In any scenerio, there will more than likely changes in design, policies or both. This is the second coaster related death in SF park in the past ten years that I can think of.

On the other hand, I get a feeling that the Six Flags lawyers are cooking up a settlement as we speak. The family is likely looking to blame the park, and the park is looking to avoid bad press.

Maybe UL should started evaluationg coaster restrains the way they do other items.

Coaster Junkie from NH
I drive in & out of Boston, so I ride coasters to relax!

Sunday, July 21, 2013 8:24 AM
Break Trims's avatar

kpjb said:

That being said, I still do not equate "negligent ride op" with "Six Flags screw up."

Look up "respondeat superior." I certainly equate the two, and it's not just a matter of personal opinion.

There's some real liability here, and if it didn't happen at the park operations level, it goes up the chain to the manufacturer, designers, etc., for providing a system that would allow for a train dispatch under unsafe circumstances. This sort of thing is not a known and accepted risk within the activity of riding a roller coaster. If the woman's size is an issue, people involved in park operations are better equipped to know if she could safely ride this particular coaster than she was.

Most cases against amusement parks seriously stink, but if this one came through my door, I'd sign it up in a heartbeat.

Last edited by Break Trims, Sunday, July 21, 2013 8:25 AM

Parallel lines on a slow decline.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 9:13 AM

I haven't ridden an intense coaster at any SF park where they don't staple you in. The park doesn't get sued it's the insurance company that will pay for this incident.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 9:56 AM

I may be wrong to some of you for saying this but, the woman in this case is also as responsible for her own safety as much as the park is if not more. If she did not feel comfortable or safe in this situation she should have demanded to be let off of the ride. This accident could have been a negligent ride op, equipment failure, or ignorance on behalf of the patron for not using common sense.

If she demanded for them to let her off the train and the ride op refused, then yes point the finger of blame at Six Flags and the ride op. But, as far as I can tell, from all the speculation that has been spewed onto the internet and newscast, she didn't put up much of a fight if she was truly that worried about her safety.

I know for myself if I was scared for my well-being for one not put myself into that situation and two if I was in that situation put up a hell of a fight till I was no longer in the said situation.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:06 AM
D_vo's avatar

Can't say I agree. With today's standard in amusement rides, there's the implication of safety involved. In "almost" all cases, it's a safe bet that if you get onto a ride, fasten the restraint to the best of your ability, and the ride operation staff & software both deem you "acceptable" to ride, you'll be able to safely ride.

The critical thing being that the staff and ride itself both allow you to ride. In my mind it sounds like this was a major failure in terms of what is acceptable in order to dispatch a train. An average rider isn't going to have any knowledge of what's acceptable vs. unacceptable, so it's up to the staff and the ride itself to make that decision.

I call Cedar Point my home park even though I live in the Chicago Suburbs.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:09 AM
sirloindude's avatar

To the point about being worried about her own safety, how many times do you find yourself on a ride with people thinking for whatever reason that their restraints are too loose. I am definitely a proponent of rider responsibility, but if I'm an unexperienced rider and I am worried and the Ride Operator who works the ride day after day tells me I'm fine, I'm going to take her or his word for it.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones


Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:23 AM

I understand that. Let me ask you this how many times have you put yourself into a situation where you were truly afraid that your safety was at risk and did not try to get out of that situation?

You go scuba diving and you look at your air tank and the needle points to E but the group leader says "no it's ok that is broken". Are you going to jump into the water on trust alone or are you going to remove yourself from the situation? I know that is a extreme example.

There is a level of personal responsibility for everything that you do. We make the decision to get onto that new 500', over 90 degree drop, overbanked turns, 40 inversion super awesome cool coaster because we want to. Not because someone says to. If she didn't feel safe she should have gotten off. That is all I am saying. Everyone gets sue happy in today's world and points the finger of blame but yet they themselves take no responsibility for the actions that put them into the situation.

The situation that happened at Darien Lake with the veteran that was killed. His family said he shouldn't have gotten onto that ride. I have more respect for them because at least they outwardly admitted poor judgment on his behalf as well as the ride ops for not stopping him.

Last edited by Bombayeclipse542, Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:38 AM
Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:32 AM

The park employees have the greater duty of care. They are trained on the safety aspects of a ride. I consider myself to have above average knowledge of rides and safety systems but I still contend that if a park employee tells me that my restraint is secure I am going to trust them unless there is a significant and obvious reason not to.

I think we are starting to see an issue of body type also playing a role in these incidents. I admit I don't know enough of the math on all of this but if a 300 pound person has a fairly evenly dispersed body weight their body will react differently to the forces of the ride than a 300 pound person who has a majority of the weight on the top half of his body.

More to the point: If you can get a lap bar to lock and 150 lbs of me is below the bar and 150 lbs is above the bar...that is one thing. If 100 pounds of me is below the bar and 200 lbs of me is above the bar, my center of gravity is now much higher. On the top of a rise I have less down lower helping to hold me in. Does that make sense?

I agree with Gonch and kp...if the rides are being designed so that the safety harness plays an integral role in the experience...then there should be multiple redundancies. If that means seat belts...so be it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:40 AM
ThatStrangeKid42's avatar

Saw this story in a newspaper this morning. Many times I've ridden a roller coaster and the lap bar felt loose. But I never expected that somebody would actually be thrown from their seat, especially on New Texas Giant of all rides. This is just depressing...

Also, I'm wondering if they'll close down the ride, like they did with Son of Beast.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 10:41 AM

I agree with the multiple redundancies in the restraint side as well.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 11:18 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

T: BombayEclipse

The issue is that the woman and the operator probably assumed that it was like the millions (if not billions) of other people who get on a rides and feel unsafe and then have a perfectly safe, if not enjoyable experience.

The woman has no idea what the difference between "feels unsafe, but is perfectly safe" (i.e. the whole point of the ride) and "actually unsafe." And to be honest, the ride-op probably doesn't have a great way to differentiate these two either beyond what the computer says. I'm convinced that there was nothing reasonable that could be done on the platform to make that differentiation and the failure was in the design failing making that distinction.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Sunday, July 21, 2013 12:01 PM

Long time since I've posted here, but I'd like to make a few comments of my own.

I think there are some very valid points brought up here:

* Ride/Restraint Design

* Rider Responsibility

* Park Operations

History has provided some examples of the above factors coming into play. Rides like Colossus, Superman and Rail Blazer had to make changes to better accommodate larger riders. Darien Lake proved that good judgment on both the rider and park is essential.

I am a top-heavy rider. (FYI, all the original safety signage for the Batman and Raptor B&M Inverteds were based on my chest and upper body dimensions. True Story!) I will think and check twice before I get on a ride to determine if it's the right thing to do for me. It is my ultimate choice if I choose to ride.

After being witness to an accident (non-coaster) at a former Indiana park several years ago, one thing I learned is to NOT speculate or create unnecessary theories/concern. The facts will come out. I hope everyone gives the victim and ALL involved their full respect during this difficult time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 2:29 PM
Break Trims's avatar

Sky diving, skiing, and whitewater rafting all have an inherent assumption of the risk. There is literally no way to eliminate the risk of injury in any of those activities without fundamentally changing the activity so much as to be unrecognizable.

Coasters, on the other hand, provide the illusion of danger without actually putting the person in danger. Unlike the above activities, there are multiple ways to make a roller coaster safer while still providing a roller coaster ride

Arguments that imply that an assumption of risk should apply to a coaster rider who is not actively comparatively negligent (i.e. unbuckling a seat belt, etc.) are absurd, and grounded neither in legal theory nor reality.

Parallel lines on a slow decline.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 2:57 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

You're talking from a legal, textbook standpoint.

Common sense dictates that there's an inherent risk in everything you do...no matter how low.

And yes, that means to me that it's not unreasonable to expect someone to understand that there's an incredibly small chance they could die on this amusement attraction when they strap in.

Unfortunately, the law isn't based on common sense or my beliefs. :)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Sunday, July 21, 2013 2:57 PM
Sunday, July 21, 2013 3:01 PM

On Bizarro at GrAdv, my OTSR popped open a notch during an inversion. Scared the bejesus out of me.

These hydraulic restraints with no seat belts on extreme rides like NTG don't seem like a good idea to me either without multiple redundancies. I've never heard this discussed before, but I'm completely with you guys on the idea that such extreme rides require a restraint system that has a backup for its backup.

I cannot imagine what this woman's family is going through after witnessing this. Truly awful. My heart breaks for them. I hope they figure out what went wrong and fix the problem so it never happens again.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Sunday, July 21, 2013 3:12 PM

Break Trims said:

Sky diving, skiing, and whitewater rafting all have an inherent assumption of the risk. There is literally no way to eliminate the risk of injury in any of those activities without fundamentally changing the activity so much as to be unrecognizable.

Coasters, on the other hand, provide the illusion of danger without actually putting the person in danger. Unlike the above activities, there are multiple ways to make a roller coaster safer while still providing a roller coaster ride

Arguments that imply that an assumption of risk should apply to a coaster rider who is not actively comparatively negligent (i.e. unbuckling a seat belt, etc.) are absurd, and grounded neither in legal theory nor reality.

I've done quite a few Whitewater Rivers in my life, including two that were Class VI (The Gnarliest). I had the misfortune of falling into a Class VI Rapid and it was not fun!

Answer my Prayers, Overbook my next Flight!
Sunday, July 21, 2013 3:22 PM
rollergator's avatar

To reiterate what others have said (Andy)...

With amusement rides, much of "the thrill" comes from the FEELING that you're not perfectly safe. Subconsciously, we may *know* (i.e., believe nearly 100%) that we're safe, but in the moment it's the conscious mind that's in charge. So much like the movies, we temporarily suspend disbelief.

The overriding factor is that when a ride op says "you're safe", guests believe them because they are more knowledgeable about the ride. The woman had zero reason to believe she might actually fall out of the ride.

Reminds me almost 100% of Perilous Plunge..."fluffy" riders can have significant shifts in their body dimensions during the ride. The thigh bone is your point of contact between you and the lap bar.


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