Houston Rodeo Carnival Death Preliminarily Ruled as an Accident

The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences has classified the death of a 47-year-old man who fell from a roller coaster at the Houston Rodeo in March as an accident. While the autopsy report has not yet been finalized, it was determined that the primary cause of the man’s death was “multiple blunt impact trauma” — likely from the impact of falling 30 feet.

It is unclear how Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences’ classification as an accidental death will affect the pending wrongful death lawsuit. As previously mentioned on this blog, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the deceased man’s son against the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and Ray Cammack Shows (the operator of the carnival rides).

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the man “was ejected from the roller coaster car” after a product defect on the ride failed to restrain him. He was riding in the front seat, which several others reported had a loose restraining latch.

Because of the pending litigation, spokespeople from both the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and for Ray Cammack Shows had no comment on the accidental death ruling. Although, after conducting its own investigation, the carnival operator told state amusement regulators that the 47-year-old man was limp before he hit the ground and thought that perhaps he had internal or pre-existing injuries.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s investigation of the roller coaster continues. All parties involved in the lawsuit are still awaiting the final autopsy results.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “Death at rodeo called an accident,” 5/20/11.