We previously reported that four people were seriously injured in the tragic accident on the Smiler ride at Alton Towers in June last year. One of the ride’s carriages, carrying 16 people, collided with another carriage causing severe injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigations have finally concluded. Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd, the owners of theme park, were fined £5 million and ordered to pay nearly £70,000 in costs.
Two young women underwent leg amputations and others suffered serious injuries when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage.
The investigation found no fault with the track, the cars or the control system that keeps the cars apart from each other when the ride is running. Stafford Crown Court heard that on the day of the incident, engineers overrode the Smiler’s controls without ensuring it was safe to do so.
Investigators also found that there was a lack of detailed arrangements for making safety decisions. The operating systems were not strong enough to stop a series of staff errors.
Merlin pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, s 3 (1) and were fined £5 million with costs of £69,955.40.
The HSE head of operations Neil Craig said, “Since the incident Alton Towers have made improvements to the ride and their safety protocols, and the lessons learned have been shared industry wide”.
Merlin Attractions “we let people down…”
Responding to the sentence, Merlin’s Chief Executive said the company was aware from the beginning that it was facing a substantial penalty for the incident adding, however: “The far greater punishment for all of us is knowing that on this occasion we let people down with devastating consequences. It is something we will never forget and it is something we are utterly determined will never be repeated”.
Kim Smerdon, Head of the specialist personal injury team at Boyes Turner, comments:
“This was a shocking incident which was very unexpected. People attend theme parks to have a good time with their friends and families, rightfully assuming that they are safe. It is good to hear the investigation has been completed and those concerned have closure. Now we know what happened we hope it will never be repeated”.