Four people riding a roller coaster at Alton Towers sustained serious injuries after two carriages crashed onto one another. While 16 people were on one carriage of The Smiler ride, the other one was empty.
According to West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) spokesman Steve Parry, two men, aged 18 and 27, and two women, aged 19 and 17, were injured in the incident and sustained “significant lower limb injuries.” The victims were transported to trauma centers in Stoke and Coventry by aerial assistance.
Parry said, “The other twelve occupants of the ride are not thought to be seriously injured.”
Evacuation of all the guests involved in the crash had been carried out by 18:35 BST.
Alton Towers Resort Director Ian Crabbe, noting the accident was the worst incident in the park’s history, said, “May I first say that my colleagues and I are devastated by what has happened here today, and our only priority at this time is to work with the emergency services to get the 16 people affected off the ride safely, and most importantly those who are injured are being cared for.
“Our concern is with and for them and for their safety, and all our thoughts and efforts are focused on them.”
The passengers were stuck on the ride at a height of 25 feet above the ground and an angle of 45 degrees before emergency services started the evacuation process. A ramp was built for the emergency personnel to reach the passengers, as reported by The Telegraph.
It was four hours before all the people were freed.
@_ikkin_ people unconscious knocked out… Blood everywhere it really was shocking
— Danny Simm (@DannySimm) June 2, 2015
According to Sky News, Lloyd Coller was visiting Alton Towers for the day. He said, “I didn’t actually see it but I heard it. It sounded exactly like a car crash – just metal on metal.”
Tom Whelton was on the ride three hours earlier when it had malfunctioned due to technical difficulties.
He said, “When we got stuck on The Smiler … we were at the bottom of the first hill and they sent a train down behind us, which I thought was a bit strange.
“We went about half-way across the park and we heard a big bang and we didn’t know what it was.”
The park will remain closed “following the dreadful incident on The Smiler” on Wednesday, Alton Towers said.
According to BBC, the park said in a statement, “All guests with pre-booked tickets, or those who arrive at the theme park, will have the choice of either having their tickets revalidated for an alternative date or a full refund.”
The Alton Towers website notes that The Smiler, inaugurated in May 2013, holds the record for having the most number of loops, 14, in a roller coaster.
It has “a series of twisted psychological effects including optical illusions, blinding lights and near misses designed to mess with your mind.”
Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainments suffered the biggest drop on the FTSE 100 – a 3-percent plummet – following the accident.
You might also be interested in: 7-year-old Killed Among Four Others In Boat Accident In Utah