Human error caused Alton Towers rollercoaster crash

Sixteen people were injured, five of them seriously, in the accident on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers in June. Picture: SWNS
Sixteen people were injured, five of them seriously, in the accident on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers in June. Picture: SWNS
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The crash on The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers that seriously injured five people was caused by human error, an investigation has found.

Owner Merlin Entertainments said the ride at the Staffordshire theme park will reopen next year.

Sixteen people were injured when the carriage they were in hit another that had come to a halt on the track on 2 June.

The five seriously injured people were Vicky Balch and Daniel Thorpe, from Buxton in Derbyshire, Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, from Barnsley, and Chandaben Chauhan, 49, of Wednesbury, West Midlands.

Ms Balch and Ms Washington had to have legs amputated as a result of their injuries.

Speaking about the idea of the ride reopening, university student Ms Balch said she wanted it shut for good. She said: “I’d like it to be, but I know that’s not realistic because it was a big attraction for the company.

“It’s affected literally every aspect of my life – I’m not independent any more at all. I’m slowly getting that back but life is never going to be the same.

“I’ve got all this to deal with for the rest of my life and then they’ve said this [the reopening] a couple of months after it’s happened.”

Three medics who risked their lives helping the victims of the crash were given Pride of Britain awards in September.

Army doctor Major David Cooper, 34, and aircrew paramedic Tom Waters, 27, were on duty with Midlands Air Ambulance when they were called to Alton Towers.

Ben Clark, 40, a volunteer with North Staffordshire BASICS emergency doctors, was also part of the emergency team.

Despite having limited rope training, they ignored health and safety rules to climb the structure to save the lives of the trapped victims.

Paul Paxton, head of personal injury at Stewarts Law, is representing a number of the victims including Ms Balch, Ms Washington and Mr Pugh.

He said: “We will wait for the recommendations and full findings based on the ongoing investigation.”

A statement from Merlin Entertainments said: “The investigation concluded that the incident was the result of human error culminating in the manual override of the ride safety control system without the appropriate protocols being followed.

“The investigation also identified areas where protocols and the training of employees should be improved. There were found to be no technical or mechanical problems with the ride itself.”

The park owners also said that improved safety measures had been put into place across all multi-car rollercoasters “to ensure that an incident of this nature can never happen again”.