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Young couple hurt on crash ride

Published 03/06/2015

Alton Towers amusement park's Smiler rollercoaster after four people were seriously injured in a collision between two carriages (@_ben_jamming/PA)
Alton Towers amusement park's Smiler rollercoaster after four people were seriously injured in a collision between two carriages (@_ben_jamming/PA)

An 18-year-old textile design student and his girlfriend have been named as among those injured when a record-breaking rollercoaster crashed at Alton Towers.

Joe Pugh, a student at the University of Huddersfield, and his girlfriend Leah Washington were hurt yesterday after two carriages crashed on a section of its 50mph ride, The Smiler. The extent of their injuries is as yet unknown.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said yesterday that four people suffered serious leg injuries in the crash - two men aged 27 and 18, and two women aged 19 and 17.

A total of 16 people were hurt when the £18 million rollercoaster, which boasts a world record 14 loops, collided with a stationary cart on a low section of the track.

Oaks Working Men's Club in Mr Pugh's home town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, posted on Facebook: "After hearing the news about the terrible accident at Alton Towers it has to come to our attention that a member of our staff was involved.

"We at the Oaks Wmc would like to extend our prayers and best wishes in the speedy recovery of our barman Joe Pugh and his girlfriend Leah Washington.

"Please be respectful of the families wishes as we don't have all the details of the incident as their attention will be focused on Joe and Leah's recovery."

Meanwhile, Alton Towers said it would remain closed for a second day tomorrow as the investigation into the collision continues.

Merlin Entertainments, which runs the park, has admitted that the ride suffered "teething problems" after opening in May 2013.

An Alton Towers spokesman said: "The decision has been taken that Alton Towers theme park will remain closed tomorrow following the incident on The Smiler.

"Guests with pre-booked tickets and those arriving at the theme park will have the choice of a full refund or an alternative dated ticket.

"Guests with pre-booked tickets have the option to use their tickets tomorrow at an alternative attraction. See website for more info."

Friends of Mr Pugh responded with shock to the news that he had been injured and took to Twitter to wish him well.

Jessica Martin ‏said: " Cannot actually believe what's happened! Get well very soon Joe Pugh. Just seen you on the news, can't miss that jacket haha! Love you."

Ross William Gibson wrote: "Can't believe when I wrote this I didn't know one of the four was my friend Joe Pugh and his girlfriend. Get well soon pal."

It also emerged that Alton Towers had tweeted Mr Pugh hours before the accident saying: "At the moment all of our rides and attractions are scheduled to be open today. We hope that you enjoy your visit."

An Alton Towers spokesman said the carriage holding the passengers was travelling at approximately 20mph when it hit the other carriage.

Passengers were left trapped for more than four hours as emergency services worked to free them from the cart.

Witnesses described scenes of horror after the collision, with one victim's face covered in blood and others screaming in terror.

Jack Carver, 33, told reporters: "It was like a horror movie hearing those screams.

"There was pure terror in their voices. It reminded me of Final Destination where the rollercoaster comes off the tracks. It was really scary."

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