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Coroner: Texas Roller Coaster Victim Fell 75 Feet

Rosa Ayala-Goana
Rosa Esparza was thrown from The Texas Giant at Six Flags Flags Over Texas in Arlington. (credit: Esparza family)

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A coroner says the passenger killed while riding a North Texas roller coaster was ejected from her seat and plummeted about 75 feet before striking a metal beam.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office released additional details Tuesday on the death of 52-year-old Rosy Esparza. She was found dead Friday night at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park in suburban Dallas.

The official cause of death remains pending, but the office says the Dallas woman's body was found atop a ride tunnel for the 14-story Texas Giant roller coaster.

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

The coroner says Esparza was ejected from her third-row seat as the ride began a steep descent along the track's first large hill.

An autopsy showed she suffered multiple traumatic injuries and extensive trauma to her torso.

The fact she was ejected so early in the ride could support some witnesses who believe her lap restraint was not properly secured.

Stephanie Hudson wasn't a witness at the Texas Giant death, but she believes failed restraints were likely to blame because she's had a similar experience.

"It is not the first time something like that has happened out there," Hudson said.

Hudson said she and her family had a terrifying experience back in January on the much smaller Runaway Mine Train roller coaster at Six Flags.

She said no one checked the lock on the lap bars in her three-row car leaving her, her husband and 9-year old daughter unprotected.

"The short version is she never touched our car at all," Hudson said of the young employee operating the ride. "And so we were getting ready to go and I could tell she was getting the green light to go and I said, 'Hey! Look! This is not secure at all!' And she just looked at me and then we were going."

Hudson said her husband clung to their daughter and they clutched the loose lap bar as the roller coaster careened around corners and over hills.

"My husband and daughter came out of their seats...and all three of us...the bar went all the way up as far as you could go, as if you were getting out. And I was terrified to even look," Hudson said.

An e-mail sent from the park's operations manager to Hudson apologized and stated the car had been immediately pulled from operation and the train would be inspected.  But Hudson said she has seen nothing done that would to convince her to return.

"I think it would take a very long time and a lot of changes before I would feel like I want to put my kids on that," Hudson said.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, there have been 14 injuries connected to the Texas Giant since 2008.

Six Flags Over Texas is conducting its own investigation into what caused the woman to fall to her death.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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