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Alton Towers: 4 people injured in crash on Smiler rollercoaster

Timeline: 2nd June 2015, 02:09PM

Two rollercoaster cars have collided mid-ride at Alton Towers. The incident occurred when a car carrying 16 people struck an unoccupied car at speed on the Smiler rollercoaster in Alton Towers. Fire crews built a 25ft platform to allow emergency services to gain access to the injured passengers. Rescue operations continued for over 4 hours.

The Metro reports that guests were aware of complications with the ride earlier in the day. One guest, Sophie Underwood – who was waiting in the queue to board the ride – said:

“They had made quite a few announcements to say there were technical difficulties. They were sending coaches around with nobody on them.”

“And then they said they had sorted it out so they decided to put people on the coach.”

Eye witness Ellis Dyson said:

“They sent a carriage without any people on it first and then sent a carriage with people on and that was the one that crashed. The platform of the ride where we were vibrated and a massive loud crash.”

Smiler facts

Speed: 53mph

Length: 1,179 metres

Duration: 165 seconds

Opened: 31st May, 2013

Number of loops: 14 (highest number in the world)

Alton Towers crash – official statements

Ian Crabbe, director of Alton Towers Resort said:

“Just to recap at around 2pm this afternoon there was an incident on the Smiler ride involving two carriages coming together on a low section of the track. One of the carriages was empty and the other had 16 guests in.

“The park’s first responder team were on site in minutes, and the emergency services shortly after. The emergency services, including the air ambulances, remain in attendance and are assisting resort staff as they work to evacuate those on the ride.

“We can confirm that four guests have sustained serious injuries, and they are being treated at the scene until they can be evacuated.”

Alton towers is run by Merlin Entertainment. Merlin Entertainment’s Chief Executive Nick Varney said:

“Technically, it should be impossible for two cars to be on the same section of track at the same time”

“There are fail safe systems and break locks around tracks to make sure that only one car can be on a section of track at a time and clearly today that didn’t happen, and that is what we need to understand.”

“Reports that there were technical glitches on the ride this morning are ones that we have to look into, and at this moment in time I have no idea whether they were related to the final accident or not.”

Alton Towers has provided a helpline: 0800 230 0770

Alton Towers Smiler rollercoaster crash – Air Ambulance response

Four air ambulances were in attendance. Steve Parry, of the West Midlands Air Ambulance Service, said:

“Of the 16 patients involved I can confirm that four of them have significant lower limb injuries and were trapped in the carriages for quite some time. Of the other 12 patients, we now believe that they will all be walking wounded patients”

Smiler rollercoaster – previous complications

  • In July, 2013, two months after opening, the Smiler rollercoaster was temporarily closed and 48 people were rescued following an issue with a loose metal bolt – the bolt fell off the ride, causing a gap to appear in the track.
  • In November, 2013, wheels reportedly fell off the rollercoaster and struck several guests sitting in the front seats of the ride.

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Sky News

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