Family Sues Six Flags After Woman's Fall From 14-Story High Roller Coaster

Daughter turned to see mom fly out of her seat.

ByABC News
September 12, 2013, 3:40 AM

Sept. 12, 2013— -- The family of a 52-year-old Dallas woman has filed a lawsuit against Six Flags Over Texas two months after the woman was thrown from the seat of her roller coaster and fell 75 feet to her death.

Rosa Esparza was killed July 19 when she fell off the Texas Giant, a 14-story roller coaster that twists and turns at more than 60 miles per hour at the amusement park in Arlington.

The lawsuit, which accuses Six Flags of negligence, was filed on Tuesday, the same day Six Flags announced the roller coaster will reopen this weekend.

Esparza, according to the suit, was in the front, left seat of the second car in the roller coaster chain when the ride began. Her son-in-law and daughter were in the front seat, and according to the lawsuit, they saw Esparza "attempting to hold on for dear life."

Frank Branson, the family's attorney, told ABC News Esparza's daughter heard her mother's screams for help.

"She heard screams behind her. She turned, as I understand it, to see her mother's feet in the air. She turns back to tell her husband and turns around again and her mother was gone," Branson said.

The T-shaped lap bar that was supposed to restrain riders didn't work properly, according to the suit. The lawsuit states that inspections done on the roller coasters after Esparza's death "showed that various parts of the security systems on the ride were experiencing inconsistencies and intermittent failures."

After the incident, Six Flags replaced a "limit switch," an indicator that shows the safety bar is in place, in the car Esparza was riding in because amusement park staff "found the switch to be defective," according to the lawsuit.

Esparza's family has requested a trial by jury and is seeking compensation of at least $1 million.

Six Flags declined to comment on the lawsuit and has never said what exactly happened the day Esparza plunged to her death, but insisted there was "no mechanical failures."

Esparza was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed more than 200 pounds, but the family's attorney says it's still not clear whether the safety bar locked or if the bar wasn't properly designed to "hold in" someone her size.

Six Flags has announced that when the Texas Giant reopens, the ride will be equipped with new seat belts and redesigned restraint bar pads. The amusement park will also offer a sample roller coaster seat at the ride's entrance for people to judge for themselves in advance whether they fit safely.