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Virginia Woman Hospitalized After Raft Flips on Water Park Ride: ‘She’s Lucky to Be Alive,’ Says Husband

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A Virginia woman was severely injured after a day at an amusement park resulted in a trip to the hospital.

Christina and Steve Orebaugh of Stuarts Draft, Virginia, decided to spend July 4 at the Kings Dominion amusement park in Doswell, Virginia. They went on a couple roller coasters with family members before taking a turn on the Tornado — a water ride that made the both of them nervous before they even went on it.

“We got to the top and I asked the person working there, ‘Does this thing flip?’ ” Steve, 46, tells PEOPLE. “She said, ‘No, that’s never happened before. We test them all the time.’ ”

Steve and his wife, who shared the same raft, became fearful of the ride’s speed.

Tornado water ride
Linda Davidson/ The Washington Post via Getty

“I was thinking how scary it was,” says Steve. “I was going to tell that woman after the ride that we were not going to do this one again. It was just so fast.”

All of a sudden, he saw his wife go headfirst into one of the ride’s walls.

“I knew she was hurt,” he says. “I was just screaming, ‘Christina, Christina.’ She was floating down the water, out of the shoot and into the pool.”

The raft — which flipped — also threw Steve off. But he was at the bottom, while Christina, 46, was at the very top.

“I was the first one to get to her,” he recalls. “She was underwater and unconscious. I was yelling, ‘Get her out of the water, get her out of the water.’ ”

Christina and Steve Orebaugh
Steve Orebaugh

He says he had trouble holding her head out of the water as he tried to make his way out of the pool with his wife in his arms.

“I was freaking out. I didn’t know if she was dead or had a broken neck,” he says. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

Courtesy Steve Orebaugh

When he was finally able to bring her to the side of the pool, he says that’s when the lifeguards and EMT were there to help.

“Why wasn’t someone there to catch her before she went underwater?” he says. “When they see a raft coming out with no one in it they should know something happened. If I had also been injured I don’t know what would have happened.”

At the hospital
Steve Orebaugh

“On Tuesday, July 4, around 2 pm, we received a report of a guest injury on the Tornado, a ride in the Soak City water park,” the Kings Dominion said in a statement to People. “Lifeguards who were at their posted positions in the water at the ride, as well as park medical staff, immediately responded. The guest was transported to the hospital. The safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority and the ride remains closed at this time while park officials conduct an investigation.”

Christina was left with a broken collarbone, a severe concussion with staples in her head and bruises all over her body. Currently back at home and in a lot of pain, she won’t be able to go back to work as a nurse for months.

“She’s very lucky to be alive and lucky she didn’t break her neck and paralyze herself from the neck down,” he says. “You hear about it happening all over the country, but who would ever think that it would happen to you? We went there to have some fun.”