The family of a 17-year-old girl badly injured in a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers have thanked doctors for saving her life after she had one of her legs amputated.
Leah Washington was one of four people seriously hurt last week when two carriages collided on the Smiler ride.
Doctors have confirmed that the teenager, from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, has had her left leg amputated above the knee. She also suffered a fractured hand in the incident.
She was on a first date with 18-year-old Joe Pugh, who was treated for two broken knees and extensive hand injuries.
Alton Towers, which opened yesterday for the first time since last Tuesday’s crash, said it was “deeply saddened” by news of Ms Washington’s injuries and insisted it would provide “full support” for all 16 people who were hurt.
In a statement, Ms Washington’s father David said: “We would like to thank our family and friends and all the well-wishers for their support.
We’d like to thank the hospital staff who saved Leah’s lifeDavid Washington, father
“Leah has suffered a life-changing injury and now has many months of rehabilitation ahead of her.
“We have done this to put people’s minds at rest and we would also ask everyone to respect Leah’s privacy as she undergoes this rehabilitation.
“We would like to thank all the emergency services at the scene and all the hospital staff who saved Leah’s life.”
Ms Washington, her boyfriend Mr Pugh, 27-year-old old assistant hotel manager Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton in Derbyshire, and 20-year-old Vicky Balch, from Leyland in Lancashire, have been described as the most seriously injured.
Ms Balch suffered potentially life-changing injuries in the crash, and is expected to make a “substantial claim for damages” to support her recovery, her solicitor said last week.
The four are being treated at the Royal Stoke University Hospital and University Hospital Coventry. A spokesman for University Hospital Coventry declined to comment on Mr Thorpe’s condition, while Ms Balch’s solicitor said there was no update on her recovery.
Mr Pugh’s father Simon said: “I would like to thank our friends and family for their support. We would also like to thank the staff at the hospital who have been very accommodating and have been lovely to us.”
An Alton Towers spokeswoman said: “We are deeply saddened by Leah’s news, and all our thoughts are with her and her family. We have made contact with all the families and assured them that we will provide full support to all of those involved, now and throughout their recovery and rehabilitation.”
Witnesses reported that people on the ride spent around four hours waiting to be rescued as emergency crews were faced with the task of safely reaching the bloodied passengers, stranded 25ft in the air at an angle of about 45 degrees.
One man who was on the ride when it crashed described the moment he “held on for dear life” as the carriages collided, before he saw blood dripping from an injured woman in front of him.