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Alton Towers Smiler crash 'was like a 90mph car accident'

Published 27/09/2016

Injured: Vicky Balch arrives at court
Injured: Vicky Balch arrives at court

The impact of the Smiler rollercoaster crash which left five passengers with life-changing injuries was similar to a 90mph car accident, a court heard.

Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd has been told it is facing a fine of up to, and even over, £10 million after admitting a health and safety breach on the 14-loop ride.

Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17, who each lost a leg in the crash on June 2 last year, and several other people trapped on the attraction for hours, attended Stafford Crown Court on Monday for the sentencing hearing.

Prosecuting, Bernard Thorogood said passengers on the £18m ride watched with "disbelief and horror" as they realised they were going to collide with an empty carriage. The Health and Safety Executive found that a "near-gale" may have been to blame for the empty carriage failing to clear the Cobra Loop.

Alton Towers has instituted 30 changes following the crash to improve the safety of the ride, the court heard.

Belfast Telegraph

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