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Texas roller coaster set to reopen after woman's death

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 12:44 PM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013
The Texas Giant coaster at Six Flags Over Texas was closed for almost two months.
The Texas Giant coaster at Six Flags Over Texas was closed for almost two months.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two months after a woman's death, the Texas Giant is set to reopen
  • Six Flags Over Texas says there were no mechanical failures
  • The ride is reopening with new safety measures in place
  • Rosa Esparza's family has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit

(CNN) -- The Texas Giant roller coaster is set to reopen this weekend, nearly two months after a woman plunged to her death on the ride.

The roller coaster will reopen with new safety measures in place, Six Flags Over Texas said in a statement Tuesday, including redesigned restraint bar pads, new seat belts and a coaster seat at the ride's entrance for visitors to test their fit before they get in line.

The ride has been closed since July 19, when Rosa Esparza fell out of a car and plummeted to her death.

As park officials trumpeted the ride's reopening, Esparza's family filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday, accusing Six Flags of negligence.

Police: No foul play seen in roller coaster death

According to the lawsuit, Esparza's daughter heard screams behind her and turned around to see her mother being thrown out of the car.

She was thrown against the ride and then catapulted onto the metal roof of a tunnel below, the lawsuit says, dying from traumatic injuries she sustained.

"As Rosa Esparza's tragic death starkly illustrates, errors on the part of the Six Flags Defendants turned a thrilling illusion into a nightmarish reality," the lawsuit says. "Customers of the park expect mock scares and delighted screams as they ride the Texas Giant roller-coaster, but they certainly do not expect to be placed in any real danger, whatsoever."

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Six Flags spokeswoman Sandra Daniels responded in a statement Thursday, "While our thoughts and prayers remain with Ms. Esparza's family and friends, there are a number of inaccuracies contained in the recent lawsuit and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously."

In their statement Tuesday, park officials said an investigation had revealed that there had been no mechanical failure on the ride.

"Due to litigation, the company is not releasing any further information about the outcome of the investigation," the statement said.

Texas state officials have approved the reopening of the ride, the statement said, adding that it had undergone extensive testing.

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