Riders stuck on Texas Giant coaster at Six Flags

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on July 10, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 11 at 10:47 PM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

ARLINGTON — Riders on the Texas Giant had to hike down the lift hill at Six Flags Over Texas Sunday afternoon after the roller coaster stopped just short of the top.

That first drop is 14 stories up in the air.

No injuries were reported as Six Flags staffers escorted riders safely back to ground level.

This is the second time in three days that the ride had to be shut down.

On Sunday, the Texas Giant's operator halted the coaster after hearing a troubling noise. Nearly two dozen fun-seekers then sat 14-stories high for about 30 minutes, according to witnesses.

The ride was reopened later Sunday afternoon, but the cars involved in the incident were pulled from service for further examination.

The incident shocked some park visitors.

“We were going to ride it,” said Bryan Stocker, 11, who was visiting with his family, “but I don’t want to any more because it stopped.”

On Friday afternoon, the roller coaster was also shut down as a precaution and the riders had to be escorted from the summit. Six Flags blamed a computer error message for that incident.

“This is not an unusual occurrence,” said Six Flags spokesperson Sharon Parker. “At any theme park, you’re going to have little glitches here and there.”

She says the ride has a complex sensor and safety system that stops the coaster and alerts the operator if it detects anything out of the ordinary.

“By no means will we do anything to compromise the safety of our guests,” Parker said.

The Texas Giant — which was introduced at the theme park in 1990 — reopened in April after being rebuilt with a higher peak and a steeper drop in a year-long, $10 million renovation.

Six Flags officials maintain that the ride is safe and that what happened on Friday and Sunday were routine procedures. The theme park notes the two shutdowns were for different reasons that officials insist have nothing to do with the recent renovation.

“Dealing with a new ride, there’s a learning curve that comes about with that,” Parker said. “I think it was a coincidence.”

Visitors on Sunday said operators repeatedly stopped the Texas Giant ride because of mechanical issues. Alese Nielsen said workers turned her away twice Sunday because of technical difficulties.

Once she did board, she said her group became trapped on the ride for about 20 minutes after it stopped suddenly outside the loading bays.

“When it’s 100 degrees outside and you’re sitting in the sun, you kind of start to worry,” Nielsen said. “Just to hear it’s having these technical difficulties, it kind of makes you wonder... what’s going on here?”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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