Boyfriend recalls Smiler ride crash

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Published: Sunday 14th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The boyfriend of a teenager who had her leg amputated after a rollercoaster crash has recalled the “sickening bang” he heard as their carriage collided with another.

Joe Pugh said his girlfriend Leah Washington screamed in pain and he described a bloody scene as they sat trapped in the Smiler ride at Alton Towers.

The pair were among five seriously injured people caught up in the crash earlier this month which resulted in the Staffordshire theme park closing for six days.

Eighteen-year-old Mr Pugh, whose knees were shattered in the crash, told the Mail on Sunday: “I remember a sickening bang with metal grinding against metal and the safety bar being rammed against my knees.

“I looked at my hands and there was blood everywhere.”

Leah, 17, from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, suffered the most serious injuries, having her left leg amputated above the knee and being treated for a fractured hand.

Mr Pugh said it was his fourth time on the Smiler ride, which was the first rollercoaster he had been on, but he vowed never to venture on to a ride again after what had happened.

He said he and the others on the ride had been forced to get off twice before it began so staff could carry out safety checks, and then described a nervous 20-minute delay as the rollercoaster paused on one of the loops.

Mr Pugh added that the excited screams of his fellow passengers turned to horrified ones moments after the crash as they were stuck in the carriage at an angle of 45 degrees.

“We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” he said.

Immediately after the crash Mr Pugh said he became angry when he saw a girl taking a video of the trapped thrillseekers.

Leah’s brother Luke spoke earlier this week of his sister’s “rapid recovery”.

He said: ” Each day has gone by and she has improved and improved.”

Daniel Thorpe, a 27-year-old old hotel assistant manager from Buxton in Derbyshire, 20-year-old Vicky Balch from Leyland in Lancashire, and Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands, also suffered injuries.

Alton Towers has said it is in contact with the victims of the crash and their families.

A spokesman said: “We have made contact with all the families and have assured them that we will provide full support to all of those involved, now and throughout their recovery and rehabilitation.”

Published: Sunday 14th June 2015 by The News Editor

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