Alton Towers owner fined £5m

Alton Towers operator Merlin Attractions has been fined £5m over the rollercoaster crash which caused a Leyland teenager to lose a leg.

Tuesday, 27th September 2016, 11:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:39 pm
Alton Towers theme park Smiler ride accident victim Vicky Balch (right) and her mother Karen arrive at Stafford Crown Court

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.

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 the Smiler ride back into service after it developed a fault shortly before the devastating crash.

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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.

Merlin Attractions admitted health and safety breaches.