Northridge quake felt like a rollercoaster ride

Just off a trip to the Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in Valencia, 11-year-old Elliott Samson was sound asleep in his Pico-Robertson home at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of the Northridge earthquake.

In his dream, he was bouncing up and down and being tossed from left to right — it felt just like a rollercoaster, Samson recalled.

He was loving every minute of it. Then he was jolted awake by the screams of his parents, who came running into his room to grab him.

“They came in screaming. We got out of bed and ran,” Samson said. “Everything was really shaking. It lasted for a long time.”

Standing under a doorway with his parents, Samson heard a smashing sound downstairs. The family’s most expensive dishes, which they stored in the highest cabinets, were done for. Ditto for all the pricey alcohol in their bar.

For Elliott, the next day was just Los Angeles’ version of a snow day, albeit with broken highways.

“Aside from everything shutting down and everything being canceled, there was a rush on the supermarkets for water,” he said.

He remembers in the weeks following the earthquake, he would be playing outside when an aftershock hit. The advice he was given: “Wait in a doorway; call parents; go back and play.”