ABC News: ARLINGTON, Texas — A woman riding a roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park in North Texas died Friday, and witnesses say she fell from a ride that is billed as the tallest steel-hybrid coaster in the world.
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. However, witnesses told local media outlets that 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," said Carmen Brown of Arlington. Brown said she was waiting in line to get on the ride when the accident happened.
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.
"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," Brown said.
Six Flags said the ride will be closed as the investigation continues, and a concert scheduled for Saturday was canceled.
The Texas Giant is 14 stories high, and has a drop of 79 degrees and a bank of 95 degrees. It can carry up to 24 riders. It first opened in 1990 as an all-wooden coaster but underwent a $10 million renovation to install steel-hybrid rails and reopened in 2011.
When the car that the woman had been riding in returned to the loading zone, two people got out and were visibly upset, Rockwell resident John Putman told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"They were screaming, 'My mom! My mom! Let us out, we need to go get her!" Putman told the newspaper.
Also Friday, an Ohio amusement park's thrill ride malfunctioned when a boat accidentally rolled backward down a hill and flipped over in water, injuring all seven people on it. Operators stopped the Shoot the Rapids water ride after the accident, said officials with Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.
Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 and was the first amusement park in the Six Flags system. It is 17 miles west of downtown Dallas. The park's first fatality happened 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 overturned in 2 to 3 feet of water.
There were 1,204 ride-related injuries reported in the United States in 2011 - about 4.3 for every million visitors - according to the National Safety Council's most recent data. Of those, 61 were deemed serious, the March 2013 report said, and roller coasters accounted for 405 injuries.
Fatalities were not listed in the report, which was prepared for Alexandria, Va.-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. Also, only 144 of the 383 amusement facilities with rides in the United States responded to the survey.
A 2005 report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated just over four people died annually on amusement rides from 1987 to 2002. The estimate includes both mobile amusement park rides and fixed-site rides.
Gold Striker Roller Coaster Closed
Because Riders Scream Too Loud!
The Gold Striker at Great America in Santa Clara had to be closed this week because riders were screaming too loudly.
The San Jose Mercury News reports (http://bit.ly/1aK6QAw) that the shrieks were exceeding the decibel limit agreed upon in a settlement with Prudential Real Estate, which owns adjacent properties.
So Great America had to cover a portion of the track in a sound-dampening tunnel. The wooden roller coaster reopened on Wednesday after the work was completed.
Gold Striker debuted earlier this year.