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Alton Towers owner prosecuted for rollercoaster crash

Posted in: Public Liability 

The owner of Alton Towers, Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, is to be prosecuted following the Smiler rollercoaster crash last year. The crash left five people with very serious injuries, with two women losing a leg and three others seriously injured. The company will appear in front of North Staffordshire Justice Centre on 22 April charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The accident occurred when the moving carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track, and has been attributed to human error.

The four people sitting at the front of the carriage sustained the most serious injuries with 20-year-old Vicky Balch undergoing six surgical procedures in an attempt to save her leg. Ms Balch, from Lancashire, later had to have her leg amputated.

Barnsley teenager, 17-year-old Leah Washington, also lost a leg in the accident, and her boyfriend, Joe Pugh, 18, shattered both his knees. 

“without appropriate safety protocols being followed”

27-year-old Daniel Thorpe from Buxton in Derbyshire sustained injuries to his lower legs and was also treated for a collapsed lung. Chanda Chauhan, 49, from Wednesbury had to undergo surgery for internal injuries sustained in the crash.

It was established at an initial investigation that the crash had been caused by human error. Instructions to shut the ride down had been misunderstood by staff, who manually restarted the ride by overriding the automatic control system. A spokesperson for Alton Towers stated that the ride had been restarted “without appropriate safety protocols being followed correctly”.

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