SANDUSKY, Ohio -- A Cleveland man needed nearly a dozen stitches after a Cedar Point ride entrance gate closed on him, trapping his leg. Cedar Point officials said the incident happened Sunday evening on the loading platform of the Raptor roller coaster. Theron Dannemiller, 37, suffered a four-inch gash on his lower right leg. He said he and a friend had ridden the coaster once and cycled back through the line a second time when the gate unexpectedly closed on him.
"At first, I thought, 'oh, I'll slip out of here,' and then as it started crushing me, I panicked," Dannemiller said.
Dannemiller said ride operators appeared confused about how to open the metal gate as he slashed his leg trying to free it. Cedar Point's safety team responded to treat Theron at the scene, and he was transported to a local hospital where he received stitches.
"I was in shock first; then the pain set in. I was up all night. My leg's throbbing; it's tingling now," he said.
Cedar Point declined an interview request and did not release the incident report or any surveillance footage of the incident but instead provided a statement by Cedar Point Public Relations Manager Bryan Edwards:
"Cedar Point's safety team responded to a report of a guest who had injured their lower leg while attempting to squeeze through an already closing safety gate on the loading platform of the Raptor roller coaster."
"All of the park's safety systems operated properly and the ride opened as normal this morning (Monday, June 22). At Cedar Point, we take the health and welfare of our guests very seriously and there is nothing that commands more attention than the safety of our park patrons and associates."
Dannemiller said he's been a Cedar Point season pass holder for 14 years and has been on Raptor hundreds of times. He disputes the statement from the park.
"I wasn't trying to squeeze through anything. That's completely untrue," he said. "I'm very familiar with Cedar Point's loading and unloading process. I rode every coaster a thousand times. I worked at Geuaga Lake years ago. I know how these things work."
Theron said he believes the incident could have been prevented if ride operators were better trained.
"I genuinely believe that it was just an employee error and a mistake, and it's unfortunate it happened to me. I just hope it doesn't happen to anybody else," he said.
Theron said park management contacted him to apologize Monday and asked him to submit his associated medical bills.
Theron said he has contacted an attorney and is considering legal action.