Tag: accident in a public place

Smiler Crash: Merlin Attractions fined £5million

The owners of Alton Towers, Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd, have been fined a total of £5million following a roller coaster crash that injured 16 people in June last year.

Recap – Smiler crash

On 2nd June 2015, four people were seriously injured on the Smiler ride when a cart carrying 16 people collided at speed with an empty test cart.

Passengers were suspended at a 45 degree angle over 7 meters off the ground and rescue efforts went on for over four hours. Fire crews had to erect a 25 ft. platform in order to allow emergency services to gain access to the injured passengers.

During the incident, two passengers – Leah Washington, 17, and Vicky Balch, 20 – sustained such serious injuries that they each required leg amputation. Leah and Vicky’s partners, Daniel Thorpe, 27, and Joe Pugh, 18, were also seriously injured in the crash. Daniel suffered leg injuries and a collapsed lung, while Joe’s knees were shattered during in the accident.

A fifth passenger, Chanda Chauhan, 49, was also treated following the crash after sustaining internal injuries and a further eleven passengers suffered whiplash injuries.

Internal investigation

Merlin accepted responsibility for the crash following an internal investigation, during which it emerged that the incident was caused due to ‘human error’. Staff – who could not see the stationary carriage on the track – overrode the ride’s safety measures, sending the carriage with passengers on a collision course with the empty carriage.

In the months following the incident, Alton Towers implemented technical improvements to the ride and changed their systems, including safety features such as improved access and a policy of closing the ride when winds exceed 34mph.

HSE investigation

However, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found no fault with the track, the cars, or the control system that keeps the cars apart from each other when the ride is running. Instead, inspectors found that the collision occurred due to ‘a lack of detailed, robust arrangements for making safety critical decisions’. They found that the engineers who overrode the Smiler’s control system did so without the knowledge and understanding to ensure it was safe to proceed.

Stafford Crown Court heard that whole system, from training through to fixing faults, was not robust enough to prevent a series of errors by staff when working with people on the Smiler ride.


After pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974, Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd of 3 Market Close, Poole, Dorset were fined a total of £5million. The company was also ordered to pay costs in the amount of £69,955.40.

Head of operations for HSE in the Midlands, Neil Craig, said:

“People visiting theme parks should be able to enjoy themselves safely. On 2 June last year Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd failed to protect their customers, they badly let them down.

“This avoidable incident happened because Merlin failed to put in place systems to allow engineers to work safely on the ride while it was running. This made it all too easy for a whole series of unchecked mistakes, not just one push of a button, to result in tragic consequences.

“Since the incident Alton Towers have made improvements to the ride and their safety protocols, and the lessons learned have been shared industry wide.”

Personal injury compensation – expert help

If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation. Our dedicated team of personal injury solicitors offers a FREE no-obligation consultation. For further information about personal injury compensation claims, and to discover whether you have a claim, contact us today on 0800 888 6 888 or email info@hh-law.co.uk.

If you would like further information about legal issues surrounding serious injury, contact us today via the details above for expert advice.

Source: Health & Safety Executive; BBC News

Fairground Operator Fined after Two People are Injured

A Hampshire based fairground ride operator has been fined for safety failings after an incident in which two members of the public fell from a ride.


The lap bar at on the ‘Music Trip’ ride at Andover Carnival came loose not long after the ride had started, the bar rose upwards and two members of the public slipped underneath and fell to the floor. They suffered bruising and cuts following the two meter fall from the ride.


Basingstoke Magistrates’ court heard that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the lap bar was not fully operative. The bar had not been correctly adjusted meaning that the ride could be operated whilst the lap bar was not properly in place. Along with this, HSE found that maintenance of the ride was poor, with the padding of the lap bar having become loose and worn over time.


John Searle, of The Shack, London Road, Hook, Hampshire, was one of the rides operators at the time of the incident, which took place on 20 July 2014. After pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Mr Searle was fined £865 and ordered to pay costs of £1,808.

Karen Moss, HSE inspector, said after the hearing:

“This should be a warning to other ride operators that it is simply not acceptable for people to be ejected from rides. Rides must be adequately maintained and properly adjusted to ensure that riders are not put at risk. Fairgrounds should have an illusion of danger but an underlying assurance of safety.”

Personal Injury – Expert Advice

If you or someone you know has been affected by a similar type of case, our expert team is on hand to offer free and friendly, no obligation advice. Call Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com for more information.

Source: Health & Safety Executive