A Virginia Beach woman who reportedly received a concussion while on the Apollo’s Chariot roller coaster Sunday at Busch Gardens has been unable to work since the accident, she said Thursday.
Timolyn Tillman, a Virginia Beach lawyer, was riding Apollo’s Chariot with her daughter and husband around 10 p.m. Sunday when the coaster came to an abrupt stop along a flat platform in the middle of the ride. The family suffered whiplash, and Tillman hit her head on her seat, she said, adding that the abrupt stop left the family disoriented and confused as the train sat still on the tracks.
A young girl sitting behind Tillman being crying, screaming and trying to leave her seat, Tillman said.
“We were up there for about 10 minutes, and it was horrifying,” Tillman said. “No one came over the loudspeaker to tell us, ‘Stay in your seat, there’s been a malfunction,’ and we were up there in pitch black.”
Busch Gardens spokesman Ron Vample said a park employee accidentally pressed the emergency stop button, which brought the coaster to a halt.
“All guests were brought back in to the ride station and safely exited the ride,” Vample said in a statement. “The Busch Gardens team spoke with all guests, who were offered water and health services.”
However, Tillman said that while she was offered water by park staff when she first got off the ride, she and her family had to walk across the park on their own to seek medical assistance.
The family went to guest services near the front of the park in search of first aid, where Tillman said they were offered quick-queue passes for their next visit rather than medical assistance. The family had to specifically ask for a manager, who was able to request first aid, she said.
Vample declined to respond to a request from WYDaily for additional comment about Tillman’s account.
“After safely exiting the ride, a small group of guests informed the Busch Gardens Health Services team of minor discomfort, at which time they were offered medical assistance and then exited the park,” Vample said in the statement.
Tillman, however, said she felt much worse than minor discomfort.
“We didn’t leave in an ambulance, but we were injured, and we didn’t get the medical attention until I begged for it,” Tillman said. “I’m very disappointed.”
Tillman said she has not been able to work since the incident.
Tillman, her daughter Alexandria, and her husband, Lance, visited Sentara Princess Anne Hospital on Monday, where they were diagnosed with concussions, she said.
Since then, Tillman said she has dealt with dizziness and nausea, and a general sense of fogginess.
“I’m a pretty quick person, and I’m having trouble putting words together,” she said. “It could’ve happened to anyone.”
Tillman said she and her family have been visiting the park for almost 20 years and are season pass holders, even visiting the Busch Gardens park in Tampa, Florida.
Now Tillman is debating whether she will ever return.
“That’s one of our favorite roller coasters, and we’re a roller coaster family,” Tillman said of Apollo’s Chariot. “To say I will never go back to the park hurts me, because we love the park. It’s hard to say because we’re focused on getting healthy right now.”