Alton Towers to remain closed

Published: Thursday 4th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Alton Towers theme park will remain closed for a second day as investigations continue into a rollercoaster crash which left 16 people injured.

The Health and Safety Executive is looking into why two carriages collided on the Staffordshire venue’s new ride, The Smiler, at around 2pm on Tuesday.

A total of 16 people were hurt – including two men aged 27 and 18, and two women aged 19 and 17, who suffered serious leg injuries.

Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, which runs the resort, said yesterday that he was unable to comment on when it might reopen.

An Alton Towers spokesman said: “The decision has been taken that Alton Towers theme park will remain closed on Thursday 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.”

Meanwhile, it emerged that two of those hurt in the crash were Joe Pugh, an 18-year-old textile design student at the University of Huddersfield, and his girlfriend Leah Washington.

The 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.”

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.”

The four people who suffered critical injuries were airlifted to major trauma centres after the 16 occupants were rescued from 25ft up in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees.

Some of the occupants suffered an ordeal which lasted more than four hours, with the evacuation not complete until 6.35pm.

The £18 million rollercoaster, which boasts a world record 14 loops, has been closed twice because of safety concerns since opening two years ago.

In July 2013 it was closed after reports that a bolt was seen to have fallen from the ride and in November that year the rollercoaster was closed after plastic guard wheels came loose and hit front-row riders.

Following the accident, Merlin Entertainments was the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, with shares down 3%.

The firm, based in Poole, has run Alton Towers since buying out previous owner the Tussauds Group in May 2007.

Published: Thursday 4th June 2015 by The News Editor

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