Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Human error blamed for Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers

Published 24/11/2015

The Smiler ride will reopen next year
The Smiler ride will reopen next year

The crash on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers that seriously injured five people was caused by human error, an investigation has found.

Owner Merlin Entertainments said the ride will reopen next year.

Sixteen people were injured when the carriage they were in hit another that had come to a halt on the track on June 2.

The five seriously injured people were Vicky Balch and Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton in Derbyshire, Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, from Barnsley, and Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands.

Ms Balch and Ms Washington had to have legs amputated as a result of their injuries.

Speaking previously about the idea of the ride reopening, university student Ms Balch told ITV's Good Morning Britain she wanted it shut for good.

She said: "I'd like it to be, but I know that's not realistic because it was a big attraction for the company.

"It's affected literally every aspect of my life - I'm not independent any more at all. I'm slowly getting that back but life is never going to be the same as it used to be.

"I've got all this to deal with for the rest of my life and then they've said this (the reopening) a couple of months after it's happened. It feels like it's not fair."

She added: "I was at university, so I've been there for two years so I've been independent for almost two years. I was doing basically whatever I wanted with my friends, looking after myself, and then now I've had to go home and I can't do many things myself."

Three medics who risked their lives helping the victims of the crash were given Pride of Britain awards in September.

Army doctor Major David Cooper, 34, and aircrew paramedic Tom Waters, 27, were on duty with Midlands Air Ambulance when they were called to Alton Towers following the crash.

Ben Clark, 40, a volunteer with North Staffordshire BASICS emergency doctors, was also part of the emergency response team.

Despite having limited rope training, they ignored health and safety rules to climb the structure to save the lives of the trapped victims.

A statement from Merlin Entertainments said: "The investigation concluded that the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed.

"The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself."

The park owners also said that improved safety measures had been put into place across all multi-car rollercoasters "to ensure that an incident of this nature can never happen again".

They added: "Alton Towers continues to provide help and support to all of those who were on the ride when the incident happened. It has taken full responsibility for the incident and continues to co-operate with the ongoing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. We are confident that lessons have been learned and that appropriate action has been taken to address all the issues raised."

The 500-acre park was shut for four days following the crash and visitor numbers at the park were down over the peak summer season.

Merlin Entertainments saw like-for-live revenues tumble by 11.4% across its theme park division over the first nine months of its financial year after seeing "significantly" lower numbers of visitors to Alton Towers - while other UK attractions in the unit, such as Thorpe Park, were also hit.

The company said earlier this month that it would be carrying out a restructuring of the business leading to the loss of up to 190 jobs at Alton Towers, Staffordshire.

This would take place in time for the park reopening for the new season in March 2016, it added.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph