Victim of Amusement Park Ride Derailment in Florida Speaks Out

One of the passengers aboard the roller coaster car that went off its tracks in Florida last week is speaking out for the first time, telling the Today show in an interview that aired Tuesday that she thought she was going to die.

(Photo: NBC News / NBC's Today)

"I couldn't breathe, I really thought I was going to die," Melissa Collins said of the harrowing experience aboard the Sandblaster coaster at the Mardis Gras Fun Center on the Daytona Beach boardwalk last Thursday. She said she attended the event with some co-workers, one of whom was one of the two people who fell more than 34 feet to the ground.

"My car totally de-railed and I was hanging up in the air. Another one of my co-workers, I watched her fall to the ground," Collins said, holding back tears. "All I could do was see her plunge to the ground. I remember her jumping up and 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 had to be operated on, according to Today. "All my ribs are crushed."

"I couldn't breathe. I was in so much pain and hurting," Collins said.

She was one of the six people transported to the hospital after the incident.

Collins remains in Florida where she is being treated for her injuries but says she desperately wants to get back home to her children.

"I've got a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old back at home, crying cause they don't know how their mommy is," she said.

The Sandblaster ride had been shut down a month prior to the incident after an inspection deemed it unfit to ride. It reportedly has a history of maintenance problems, like damaged cars and excessive corrosion.

The ride had reopened after a state inspection, just hours before the derailment on Thursday.

Collins and two others involved in the crash are considering a lawsuit in the matter, with their lawyer Matt Morgan telling NBC "We believe that a lawsuit is imminent."

"We believe that the failure occurred as a result of improper maintenance with this particular coaster," Morgan said.

Boardwalk Amusement Rides, the company that operates the Sandblaster, told NBC via a statement that it is 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."