- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2000

An Upper Marlboro, Md., woman says she was injured, and would have been crushed, if two men hadn't grabbed and kept two gates from closing on her at the entrance to a Six Flags amusement-park ride Saturday night.

Phoebe Allen and park staff agree that she was leaving the passenger-boarding area through the entrance gate at "Two Face" one of two new roller coasters installed at the Largo, Md., park last year.

Interviewed at her home yesterday, Ms. Allen said she was stunned and panicked when the gates closed on her after she saw her daughter and sister onto the ride.

"I really thought I was going to die," Ms. Allen said, resting on a lounge in her living room yesterday.

Her fiance, Ralph Smith, said he's afraid she might have died if he and a bystander hadn't grabbed the gates, countered the closing force and yelled at the operator.

Six Flags spokeswoman Debbie Evans referring to the park's own report on the incident said the ride's operator announced over a loudspeaker that the gate was closing.

"Evidently, Ms. Allen wasn't paying attention or tried to dash back through the door," Mrs. Evans said.

Ms. Allen said she did not hear any warning and that it was ride attendants who weren't paying enough attention.

"To me, that's the question, and if they did, why didn't they check to make sure the area was clear?" Ms. Allen said. "People that visit Six Flags need to be aware of the danger and [ride management] needs to change procedures." She has not yet decided whether she will take legal action.

Yesterday afternoon, a reporter watched the ride's gates close as the stand-clear announcement was still being made. Two attendants the number always on duty, Mrs. Evans said helped passengers get seated.

Ms. Allen disagrees with the Six Flags officials claim that only her arm was caught, that she showed no visible signs of injury and that she initially turned down first aid.

"It was my whole body," Ms. Allen said. "I don't recall ever turning down aid. I recall not being able to move my arms or the upper part of my body at all."

After a staff paramedic evaluated her, a county ambulance took her to Bowie Medical Center. Mr. Smith said Ms. Allen, an auditor for Prince George's County schools, is scheduled to see a specialist about pains in her neck and back today.

Mrs. Evans said Six Flags went beyond what was required in tending to Ms. Allen. She added that she thinks Mr. Smith holds a grudge against management for not hiring one of his children.

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