|Roller Coaster Death Witnesses: 'That Could Have Been Me'|
|By MICHAEL S. JAMES (@bymsj) and ALEXIS SHAW (@ashaw109)||Jul 20, 2013, 9:14 AM|
Authorities are working to determine if a woman was not properly secured in her seat after she fell to her death from an amusement park roller coaster in Arlington, Texas.
A woman, whose name has not been released, was riding the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas, with her son when she apparently fell out of her seat at around 6:30 p.m. local time Friday.
Many park goers said they were shocked to witness the deadly accident unfold just seats ahead of them. READ MORE: Six Flags Over Texas: Woman Dies While Riding 'Texas Giant' Rollercoaster
"Literally just witnessed someone fly off the Texas Giant two seats in front of me," tweeted Joshua Paul Fleak. "Restraint came undone, coaster turned and she was gone."
"She goes up like this, then when it drops to come down, that's when it [the woman's restraint] released and she just tumbled," Carmen Brown told ABC Dallas affiliate WFAA-TV.
Brown, who had been next in line to ride the coaster at the time, said it took her some time to realize what she had just seen.
"It didn't hit me until we got back down to the bottom," Brown told WFAA-TV. "She was no bigger than I was. That could have been me."
Jahzeel Cabrera, who was also on the ride ahead of the victim, said that people started to panic when they learned someone on the ride had just dropped to their death.
"Other families were crying, screaming and looking for their families," he told ABC's "Good Morning America. "They just heard that someone had fallen down from the roller coaster and in that moment, there was a panic."
While officials would not comment on the ride's restraint system, Arlington police told WFAA-TV this was not a criminal investigation.
Park officials released a statement on Saturday on the status of the accident investigation.
"We are committed to determining the cause of this tragic accident and will utilize every resource throughout this process. It would be a disservice to the family to speculate regarding what transpired. When we have new information to provide, we will do so. Our thoughts, prayers and full support remain with the family," said Sharon Parker, Communications Manager for Six Flags Over Texas/Hurricane Harbor.
The Texas Giant rollercoaster debuted as an all-wooden ride in 1990, and reopened in 2011 redesigned with a steel track, WFAA-TV reported. The coaster is now billed as the tallest steel hybrid coaster in the world.
At 152 feet, it boasts "the steepest drop of any wooden coaster at 79 degrees," Six Flags Over Texas said on its website. "The new ride also has a record-breaking bank of 95 degrees, steeper than any other wooden coaster on the planet."
Another amusement park accident unfolded after a thrill ride malfunctioned at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio Friday evening.
Cedar Point officials said in a statement a boat on its Shoot the Rapids ride rolled backwards and flipped over in water, trapping and injuring seven passengers.
All seven people onboard were taken to the park's first aid station. One passenger was later brought to Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky, Ohio, for additional evaluation, but was treated and released later Friday evening.
Park officials are currently investigating the incident and Cedar Point is to remain closed until further notice, the statement said.