Tag: alton towers accident

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.

Sentencing

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

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.

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.

Sources:

Metro
Sky News
BBC.co.uk