ARLINGTON, Texas -- A woman riding a roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park in North Texas died Friday when 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.
"The safety of our guests and employees is always our top priority and we remain vigilant in adhering to our safety standards.," Brandon Bruce, spokesman for Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. "There is not a similar ride at Great America and all rides are operating as normal."
In another amusement park accident Friday, a boat on an Ohio thrill ride accidentally rolled backward down a hill and flipped over in water when the ride malfunctioned, injuring all seven people on it. Operators stopped the Shoot the Rapids water ride after the accident, which occurred on the ride's first hill, the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, said.
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 at Six Flags overturned in 2 to 3 feet of water about 200 feet from the end of the ride.
Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961 as the first amusement park in the Six Flags system. It is 17 miles west of downtown Dallas.