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June 8, 2015

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Girl’s leg amputated after Alton Towers crash

Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, picture courtesy of @WMAS (West Midlands Ambulance Service)

Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, picture courtesy of @WMAS (West Midlands Ambulance Service)

A 17-year-old girl has had her leg amputated following a rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers.

Leah Washington was on the front row of the Smiler ride which crashed into an empty carriage in front of it. Three other people, who were also in the front row, sustained serious leg injuries, while a fifth person is being treated for internal injuries.

The theme park reopened earlier today, six days after the crash, but the ride remains closed.

Ms Washington’s father, David Washington, from Barnsley, said: “Leah has suffered a life-changing injury and now has many months of rehabilitation ahead of her.”

Her leg was amputated above the left knee and she also suffered a fractured left hand.

Alton Towers said it was “deeply saddened” by the news, adding it will “provide full support to all of those involved now, and throughout their recovery and rehabilitation”.

On Friday, the Health and Safety Executive announced that the carriages involved in the incident on 2 June were transported to the Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton for further analysis.

A prohibition notice was served on the rollercoaster stopping its use until action was taken to deal with the cause of the failure.

Neil Craig, Head of Operations for HSE in the Midlands said: “The Notice is specific to the ‘Smiler’ ride and does not affect other rides at the park. HSE expects the park operator to apply any early learning from the incident to wider risk management at the site.

“The decision about when to re-open the Park is for the owners to make.”

It is understood four people hurt in the crash are being treated in hospital for serious leg injuries.

Owners Merlin Entertainments Ltd said it had carried out “a thorough review” of operating and safety procedures.

According to the BBC, a number of people who had pre-booked tickets for Monday have said they will not now attend.

Student Louise Riley, who had planned to visit Alton Towers with a group of friends, said they did not want to feel “like guinea pigs” on the first day since the accident.

“We’re quite a bit nervous that other rides have been closed as well,” she said. “It makes you question the safety of all the rides.”

Merlin Entertainments Ltd chief executive Nick Varney said Tuesday’s crash was the first accident in the company’s history and it had introduced extra safety measures at its theme parks.

Alton Towers has said anyone with pre-booked tickets could get a full refund if they did not want to visit.

The X-Sector of the theme park – which houses the Smiler, Enterprise and Oblivion rides- will remain shut until further notice, as part of the HSE investigation.

The Spinball ride will also be closed until enhanced safety protocols have been implemented.

Two rides currently closed at Merlin-owned Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures, both in Surrey, are expected to reopen soon.

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