Woman Riding Florida Roller Coaster During Derailment Speaks Out: I 'Thought I Was Going to Die'
One of the passengers aboard the roller coaster that derailed in Florida last week is opening up about the terrifying experience
Melissa Collins was riding the Sandblaster coaster at the Mardis Gras Fun Center on the Daytona Beach boardwalk when the front car she was in went flying off its tracks, sending two people — including her coworker Amanda — falling 34 feet to the ground.
“I couldn’t breathe. I really thought I was going to die,” she told NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren in an interview that aired Tuesday, holding back tears. “I was in so much pain and hurting.”
“My car totally derailed and I was hanging up in the air and another one of my coworkers, I watched her fall to the ground,” Collins added. “All I could do is see her plunge to the ground. I remember her jumping up, knowing she was probably in pain.”
Collins, a mother of two from Kentucky, was left with nine broken ribs, spinal injuries, and a fractured collarbone that required surgery, according to Today. She was one of six people transported to the hospital after the accident.
She remains in Florida where she is being treated for her injuries, and said all she wants to do it get back home to her kids.
“I’ve got a 10-year-old and 13-year-old back at home, crying cause they don’t know how their mommy is,” Collins said.
NBC News reported that the Sandblaster coaster had been shut down a month prior for its history of maintenance problems, including damaged cars and excessive corrosion.
It had reopened on Thursday after a state inspection, hours before derailing.
“We believe that a lawsuit is imminent,” attorney Matt Morgan, who is representing Collins and two others in the incident, told NBC. “We believe that the failure occurred as a result of improper maintenance with this particular coaster.”
Boardwalk Amusement Rides, who operate the Sandblaster coaster, gave a statement to NBC saying that they are working with state agencies to look into the incident.
“The safety and well-being of our customers has always been our top priority” the statement read. “We continue to fully cooperate with all state agencies in their investigation and will do so until their investigation is complete.”
The incident is just the latest in amusement park incidents that have put the safety of riders at risk.
Back in May 2017, eight riders were left stranded on a roller coaster 120 feet in the air after high winds triggered a safety sensor to stop the ride at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.
The riders, all teenagers, were waiting to get off for three hours.
“We were holding hands, and we prayed a lot,” Christian Chaney, a Durant High School senior who was on the ride with a friend at the time, told KTBS. “My friend and I thought we were going to die, just because there was lightning, and we didn’t think anyone knew we were up there.”
She added to the outlet: “I had a pair of shorts, and once I got off the ride my legs were red from where the rain had been hitting them so hard. I was bawling. I was just so happy to be on the ground. It really hit me then, as I was coming down the ladder, that I was really in a life-threatening situation.”