There's no way around it: Rosy Esparza's death on a Six Flags Over Texas roller coaster ride in Arlington on Friday was horrific.
On Tuesday, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office released more details on what happened when the 52-year-old woman fell out of her restraints while riding the Texas Giant roller coaster.
She was seated in the third row, the medical examiner's office said, "and as the carts began the steep descent from the first large hill of track, she was ejected from her seat falling freely for an approximate distance of 75 feet, striking a support metal beam and then coming to rest on the metal roof of the tunnel."
Identified in the report by her maiden name, Rosa Irene Ayala-Goana, officials said she suffered "extensive trauma of the torso" and died from the fall.
Industry analysts and watchdogs have criticized loose Texas regulations that leave Six Flags to investigate itself for what went wrong, but Six Flags and the ride's manufacturer could expect to take a beating in court if the family files a wrongful-death lawsuit.
"I’m thinking an eight-figure recovery could be very realistic," said Michael Grossman, a Dallas-based personal injury attorney who has followed the story and called a potential lawsuit “seemingly a slam dunk."
"Based on what I have read, I would not want to be defending that case," he said.
Brad Parker, a Bedford, Texas-based personal-injury attorney, agreed. “All of the parties involved, Six Flags, the manufacturer of the product, have insurance to cover these kinds of losses,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “It’s an insured loss.”
The family has not spoken out in the news media but has reportedly hired an attorney.
In recent filings with federal regulators, Six Flags reported carrying excess liability insurance of up to $100 million per incident and reported drawing a record high of $451 million in revenue for the first six months of 2013.
The company has not commented on its internal investigation into Esparza's death except to note that "external experts" were also taking part, but the company has declined to identify who those experts are.
Arlington police are also conducting a death investigation and did not expect that foul play was involved or that the operators were intoxicated, which is against state law, according to the Dallas Morning News. Police said that they were reviewing security video and that witnesses had been cooperative.
Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, the German company that built the cars for the Texas Giant, was also reportedly sending experts to look at the shuttered ride and investigate the incident. It could also be the target of a lawsuit.
Under Texas law, the ride is not allowed to reopen after such an accident until an expert appointed by the ride's insurer has inspected the roller coaster and certified it safe for use.
In response to the Texas accident, the International Assn. of Amusement Parks and Attractions released statistics saying that the chances of being seriously injured on a theme park ride are 1 in 24 million and that the chances of being killed on a ride are 1 in 750 million.
The trade group also said a majority of injuries take place because riders didn't follow safety guidelines, which include height and weight restrictions.
Times staff writer contributed to this report.