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New details in Texas roller coaster death

Posted at 1:26 PM, Jul 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-23 15:56:03-04

By Michael Martinez

(CNN) — A roller coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio has been temporarily closed as a precautionary measure after a woman died last week on a similar ride at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington.

No injuries have been reported on the Iron Rattler in San Antonio, which opened in May, but it will remain closed while officials investigate the Six Flags death in Arlington.

Meanwhile, an inquest by the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office revealed details Tuesday on how Rosy Esparza died after being ejected from her third-row seat as the Texas Giant roller coaster began a steep descent on the first large hill.

On Friday, Esparza fell about 75 feet, struck a metal beam and came to rest on the metal roof of a tunnel, the inquest found.

Esparza, 52, of Dallas died of multiple traumatic injuries and had extensive trauma to her torso, the medical examiner said. Esparza, who is identified in the report by her maiden name of Rosa Irene Ayala-Gaona, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The manner of her death is pending further investigation and laboratory results, the medical examiner’s office said.

At its highest point, the Texas Giant is 153 feet and has a drop of 147 feet, according to the theme park.

The Texas Giant was originally designed in 1990 as an all wooden roller coaster. It was redesigned with a steel track and reopened in April 2011 to mark the theme park’s 50th anniversary.

Esparza’s son-in-law and his wife were sitting in front of her at the time. Contrary to witness accounts reported by CNN affiliates, Ronald Segovia told CNN he did not hear his mother-in-law mention that her seat did not lock properly.

Segovia also told CNN that Esparza was sitting by herself, contrary to initial reports she was sitting beside her son. Her sons, according to Segovia, were not there.

In Facebook posts Saturday, her sons described the experience as horrific.

On Saturday, authorities said an initial investigation showed no sign of foul play in the woman’s death. “At this point of the investigation, it does not appear there was any foul play or criminality associated with this tragic incident,” the Arlington Police Department said in a statement.

Six Flags Over Texas spokeswoman Sharon Parker said the park is committed to determining what happened.

Visitors to fixed-site amusement parks — places where rides are permanently attached to the ground — have a one in 24 million chance of being seriously injured, according to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

CNN’s Todd Sperry contributed to this report.

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