Six Flags is recognized as the World’s largest regional theme park company, with 19 parks throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Unfortunately, when people hear this terrible news occurring at one Six Flags Theme Park, it can negatively affect the attendance at all of their parks, hurting their wallets big-time.
But this story is more than just a negatively impacting financial story. The family of a woman who fell off of the Texas Giant rollercoaster last week is now mourning her loss, after plummeting 75-feet to her demise. The Texas Giant is known as the worlds’ steepest wooden rollercoaster.
As a witness reported, the woman was worried that her lap restraint wasn’t working when she boarded the ride. She asked the ride attendant why she didn’t hear the restraint click, but was told not to worry, and literally sent her on her own death ride. It doesn’t help Six Flags that the witness also said that the attendant “shook her restraint,” but wasn’t really paying close attention to see if it was secured properly.
Jim Reid-Anderson, CEO of Six Flags, said that the ride will “remain closed until we are certain it is safe to ride. History in this industry would suggest there is a lag in reaction time after an accident. There could be a short-to-medium-term attendance impact at the affected park.”
Unfortunately, the government officials in the state of Texas cannot get involved and take action, as Texas is one of seventeen states that does not give authority to federal agency to enforce safety standards. Since there is no oversight among amusement park rides, it is entirely up to Six Flags to conduct their own investigation.
It would be in Six Flags’ best interest to hire an independent organization to do the investigation and clear them, if they truly did nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. Amusement ride safety inspector Ken Martin described it as a case of “the fox guarding the hen.”
Take Texas Senator Ed Markey’s statement in perspective, to see how big the amusement park regulation (or lack thereof) problem really is. He said, “A baby stroller is subject to tougher federal regulation than a roller coaster carrying a child in excess of 100 miles per hour. We need to close this ‘roller coaster loophole’ and ensure federal authorities can investigate these accidents and order necessary safety improvements when necessary to prevent injuries.”
On the spectrum of inspection programs versus no inspection programs, the state of Texas falls towards the middle, where they collect fees from the amusement parks, take down their information, make sure they have insurance, require a third-party inspection, and deem them fit for riders.
Six Flags released a statement about the roller coaster death. They said, “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… our thoughts, prayers and full support remain with the family.”
Martin said that families that are concerned for their safety but still want to go to these amusement parks should look at the amusement park’s safety guide, go over them with your family, be aware of the rides that are marked for dangerousness and avoid them, pay attention the rules, and pay attention the operator. Most importantly, if you feel uncomfortable, do NOT stay on the ride.
According to the National Safety Council, the chance of being seriously injured on a ride at an amusement park is 1 in 24 million, and the chances of being fatally injured is 1 in 750 million. Just to put this number in perspective, the National Weather Service reports that the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are 1 in 500,000. However, when it comes to your life and your safety, is 1 in 750 million still too high for you to take that risk?
What do you think about this tragedy? Will this incident prevent you or your family from going to an amusement park? If you still plan on going to amusement parks, will you avoid roller coasters like the Texas Giant?
Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact a Gacovino Lake attorney at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).