The employee was hit at 10 a.m. by a train on the SCREAM! ride as the theme park was opening its gates. Emergency crews responded and transported the victim to a nearby hospital.
Investigators from Cal/OSHA reported that the employee was testing the ride's braking system moments before the park opened.
"From what we've learned so far, the employee walked across the tracks (when exiting) instead of through an exit gate," said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for Cal/OSHA.
The yellow-and-blue, corkscrew coaster, the newest at Magic Mountain, was closed all day, the ride's entrance blocked by six large trash cans. An employee posted near the cans informed visitors the coaster was closed because of "technical difficulties."
Early reports of the incident were similar to an employee death at the Valencia park eight years earlier. In May 1996, a woman operating the Revolution roller coaster was hit by a train and died at the scene.
In that incident, a 25-year-old employee had been helping to board and unload passengers when she was crushed by the six-ton car in front of a platform of waiting riders. Magic Mountain officials said at the time that the employee violated park policy by walking across the track. Cal/OSHA investigators countered that the park had lax standards for ride operators and had failed to discipline employees who did not follow the policy.
SCREAM! is a one-year-old floorless roller coaster which allows riders, strapped into chairs with their feet dangling, to race through twists and turns at up to 65 mph.