Alton Towers firm fined £5m after teens injured in rollercoaster crash

Accident victims Leah Washington and Joe Pugh outside Stafford Crown Court. Picture: PA
Accident victims Leah Washington and Joe Pugh outside Stafford Crown Court. Picture: PA
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Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions has been fined £5 million after admitting health and safety breaches over the Smiler rollercoaster crash.

Two teenagers - Vicky Balch, then 19, and Leah Washington, then 17 - each lost a leg in the collision in June last year which “changed the lives of some of those injured in the most dramatic way”, according to a judge.

The accident happened in June 2015

The accident happened in June 2015

Stafford Crown Court heard that the victims had watched with “disbelief and horror” before ploughing into an empty carriage on the track, with the impact likened by the prosecution to a 90mph car crash.

The company was fined after the court heard that an engineer “felt pressure” to get Smiler back into service after it developed a fault shortly before the devastating crash.

An expert witness report, compiled by consultant Stephen Flanagan, also said Alton Towers management linked bonuses to “acceptably low levels of downtime” on their rollercoasters.

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