Over a year since the event, a judge today finally ruled how much Alton Towers would be fined over their role in the horrific Smiler rollercoaster crash that left two people with their limbs amputated. The amount: £5million.
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Footage from the CCTV cameras surrounding the ride of the crash has also been released for the first time to the public, which you can see below. It’s not really that horrific or terrifying as you can’t really tell what’s going on in it, but it’s still a shocking reminder that roller coaster crashes do happen and they can actually be fuckign dangerous and life threatening.
Here’s what Judge Michael Chambers QC has told Stafford Crown Court as he was sentencing:
The Smiler rollercoaster crash at Alton Towers was a catastrophic failure of health and safety and could have been easily avoided by a suitable written system to deal with ride faults and a proper risk assessment.
The injured endured great pain and distress while waiting for medical help, with the first 999 call not made until 17 minutes after the crash. It took up to five hours for them to be freed from the wreckage.
Human error was not the cause as was suggested by the defendant in an early press release.
The defendant now accepts the prosecution case that the underlying fault was an absence of a structured and considered system not that of individuals’ efforts, doing their best within a flawed system.
Members of the public have been exposed to serious risk of one train colliding with another with a computer control system was reset, having been overridden to address a fault.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Neil Craig, HSE’s Head of Operations for the Midlands, said that lessons had been learned from the incident:
When people visit theme parks, they should be able to enjoy themselves safely.
On 2nd June last year, Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd failed to protect their customers. They let them badly down. It is right that they’ve been held to account for those failings in a criminal court.
This avoidable incident happened because Merlin failed to put in place systems that would allow their engineers to work safely on the ride whilst it was running. This made it all too easy for a whole series of unchecked mistakes, not just the single push of a button, to result in tragedy.
Since the incident, Merlin have made improvements to the ride and to their safety protocols – and the lessons learned have been shared with the industry.
It sounds as if Merlin/Alton Towers have paid the price and learned their lesson from the incident, it’s just obviously a great tragedy that this even had to happen and two people had to lose their legs for them to realise this. Not sure if I’ll ever have the guts to ride The Smiler now though.
Maybe check out that new one Valravn, which broke ten records and is apparently the baddest roller coaster of all time instead.