By Cleve Bryan
SICKLERVILLE, N.J., (CBS) — Having only one arm and one hand with three fingers doesn’t stop Jacqueline Winner from Sicklerville with doing her duties as a mother of four and a paralegal.
“I was not brought up handicap so I was never told that I couldn’t do something, I just did it,” says Winner.
Last June while chaperoning her 5th grade daughter’s field trip to Six Flags Great Adventure she had an embarrassing reminder of her disability after boarding the El Toro roller coaster.
“This guy comes up to me and says you’re going to have to get off the ride. I was like what do you mean? He said well you don’t meet our safety standards,” says Winner.
Though she rode dozens of roller coasters in her life without being told she didn’t have adequate arms or fingers, she left that one humiliated.
“I didn’t want to make a scene in front of my daughter. Everybody’s looking like why is that lady with one arm getting off the ride,” says a tearful Winner.
Winner says she went to guest relations and after explaining her feelings and capabilities a supervisor later offered to let her ride the rollercoaster but at that point she was too embarrassed.
She says attempts to address the issue with upper management have been ignored so January 7th her attorney filed a discrimination law suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
“You have to judge people based on their actual capabilities, what they can do and not based on appearance,” says her attorney Richard Schall.
Since a 2011 accident near Buffalo, NY where an amputee veteran fatally fell from a rollercoaster some amusement parks have revised rules for disabled riders.
According to the Six Flags Safety and Accessibility Guild on El Toro “riders must possess at least one (1) naturally fully formed and functioning arm absent of prosthetic devices.”
Functioning arm is defined as “a full arm with the ability to be flexed at the elbow and a minimum of three full fingers with the ability to hold on with a firm grip.”
Winner, who has no restrictions on her driver’s license, says even if a judge decides it was okay to prevent her from riding – she should have been treated with more dignity.
“I’ve just never had that happen to me before,” says Winner.
Kristin Siebeneicher from Great Adventure’s media relations department says the park does not comment on litigation.
Winner’s case has not been assigned to a judge yet at U.S. District Court in Trenton but she hopes the park will change some of their policies before opening for the next season.
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