Six Flags workers may see photos of fatal fall aftermath during depositions, judge rules

02/19/2014 7:23 PM

02/19/2014 10:33 PM

Attorneys representing the woman who fell to her death from the Texas Giant roller coaster at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington will be allowed to show medical examiner’s scene photographs during depositions with park employees, a Tarrant County judge has decided.

In an order issued late Tuesday, state District Judge Wade Birdwell also told Six Flags’ attorneys to make the Texas Giant operator and attendant who were working on the night of July 19 available for depositions by the end of the month.

Likewise, the attorneys representing the family of Rosa Esparza were ordered to produce Aracely Esparza Segovia and Ronal Segovia, Esparza’s daughter and son-in-law, for depositions by the end of March.

Birdwell declined to order any monetary sanctions in the case. Both sides had asked for sanctions, accusing the other of stalling the process by not producing witnesses for depositions.

Last month, Birdwell met privately with attorneys for the Esparza family, Six Flags and Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the German manufacturer who built the trains for the Texas Giant, to hash out problems in getting depositions and to decide whether the scene photos could be used.

Birdwell’s order went on to say that Six Flags needs to produce the ride operator who was working an earlier shift on July 19 and also corporate representatives. Those depositions must be done by April 30.

The one deposition taken so far suggests there is some question about why a ride operator didn’t stop the roller coaster when she thought the lap bar in Esparza’s car was not in the proper position. An attendant said in the deposition that he was confident the lap bar was secure.

Six Flags and Gerstlauer have denied liability for the fall. Earlier this week, Six Flags filed an action against Gerstlauer saying the roller coaster car was defective and dangerous. An attorney for Gerstlauer said he expected the company, in turn, would sue Six Flags.

The Texas Giant originally opened in 1990 but was shut down after one season and reopened in 2011 after a $10 million renovation, which included installation of a steel track.

The ride was immediately shut down after Esparza’s death and reopened in September after Six Flags said its investigation found that no mechanical failure was involved.

Six Flags added redesigned restraint-bar pads from the manufacturer, as well as new seat belts, and it began providing a coaster seat at the ride's entrance so guests can test whether they fit safely.

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