By Friday night, Scott Larson was getting tired of California Screamin', which they had already boarded a dozen or so times. But Larson went along with his sons' pleas.
Larson sat behind his two boys about five seats back.
At a stop toward the ride's end about 6:40 p.m., Larson noticed something out of the corner of his eye - another car coming around the last loop.
"I thought, in no way in this high-tech world, this thing is going to run into us. I figured it would brake. The next thing was, slam. It hit us and that was that," said Larson, an engineer.
His body jolted. The restraint jammed in tight, making it hard to move. He couldn't see his boys over the headrests.
"I was yelling for them, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' At first, they didn't respond. The oldest one was crying a little bit. He said, 'I'm OK,' " Larson said.
Meanwhile, Larson's wife, Michelle, 38, was waiting outside. She heard a strange clicking, then a crash.
Michelle said she stayed calm as she called her husband's cellular phone.
"They weren't unconscious or anything like that. I got confirmation that they were alive and fine, and just a little bumped and bruised. That helped me a little bit," said Michelle Larson, who then reassured other guests.