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PHILADELPHIA – Four of the people who fell as a result of a railing collapse at FedEx Field on Sunday – all of whom say they suffered injuries from the incident, most of them minor – rejected a statement from the Washington Football Team suggesting that they was offered on-site medical assessment.
“They did not ask if anyone was injured, and they certainly did not ask if anyone needed medical attention,” said Andrew Collins, 26, of Brooklawn, New Jersey. “The only thing the staff told us was to get the F off the field.”
A railing on the side of the tunnel that led to the visitors’ locker room at FedEx Field collapsed just as Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts left after Philadelphia’s 20-16 victory. Several videos show a group of about eight fans falling about six feet to the ground.
Hurts surrounded the falling fans and was not hit. He helped someone up and asked several of them if they were okay while posing for pictures.
Washington issued a statement Sunday night, stating: “As far as we know, everyone involved was offered medical evaluation on the spot and left the stadium of their own free will. We are very happy that no one appears to have been seriously injured. Security for our fans and guests are of utmost importance and we are investigating what happened. “
Mike Naimoli, a 26-year-old from Sicklerville, New Jersey, called the statement “completely wrong,” saying no medical care had been offered. Instead, he said they were told, ” Everyone gets the F off the field ‘and [they] grabbed us quickly away from Jalen and threw us up in the stands. “
According to a source familiar with the situation, Prince George’s County EMS staff were on the scene within five minutes and began treating those in need of medical attention, including a media member who had been transported by and another fan. The source said they were not aware that anyone else needed medical attention at the time.
The team continues to investigate the situation.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email: “We are reviewing the matter with the club to understand what happened and to make sure it does not happen again.”
Naimoli and his fiancée, 24-year-old Morgan French, also from Sicklerville, drove to the fight with Collins and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Marissa Santarlasci.
Naimoli, seen in the video in the green Hurts jersey, said he began to experience neck and arm pain, as well as a tingling sensation in his hand, which he said was trapped under the barricade shortly after the incident. He went to Inspira Medical Center in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, Sunday night to be checked out, and he was fitted with a neck brace while waiting in the emergency room, he said. When he was discharged after 5:30 a.m. Monday, he was diagnosed with a cervical strain and a head injury along with elbow and knee contusion, documents show.
Collins said he experienced low back pain and a pulled groin on Monday, while Santarlasci and French said they suffered significant bruising in their legs.
“I was the last person to fall,” said French, who has a bruise running from the top of one hip bone down to her knees, to go with bruises on both shins. “I was on top of everyone, so I jumped up quickly, and the security guard literally pulled me up in my two arms and got me off the field. I didn’t have time to process. I was more in shock.”
A Washington official said the area where the fans gathered was for the disabled and designed for wheelchair access and that the railing is not load-bearing and therefore not designed to withstand hundreds of pounds leaning into it. However, the group claims that they were given access to the area by a member of the stadium security and that there was no signage indicating that it was a restricted area.
“The security guard at the bottom, we [asked] him: ‘Can we go over there?’ And he said, ‘Yes,’ “Naimoli said. If the Washington Football Team wants to come out and say the area is limited, there was no evidence for it at all. One security guard right in front of that area swept us in there and said, “OK, move on to the tunnel.”
This was not the only incident at FedEx Field this season. In Washington’s season opener loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, a pipe connected to rainwater storage broke and soaked a small portion of fans.
“I was at the front of the railing and I felt a pressure as soon as we went down there. Me and Andrew said, ‘This thing is going to collapse,'” Santarlasci said. “More and more people kept piling up … and as soon as Hurts came by, it obviously collapsed. I fell down. And when I got up, I tried to get my foot out of the railing because it was still was trapped, and the folks at FedEx, they just tore the railing when my foot was still trapped in it.
“They did not even ask, ‘Are you okay? Do you need help?’ Nothing. They just went their day. Hurts was actually the one who asked, ‘Are you okay?’ It was crazy. “
ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.