Chessington World of Adventures is to be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a girl falling and being serious injured in 2012.
Park operators Merlin Entertainments have been summoned to appear at Redhill Magistrates’ Court on 4 November.
The court case is expected to continue for many months via the Crown court, with the charges being made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Four-year-old Jessica Blake fell from the queue line for the Tomb Blaster dark ride in the summer of 2012, suffering serious head injuries and subsequent induced coma.
Merlin has taken hardened line in response to the prosecution, which is consistent with its approach in a similar prosecution in 2012 following a fatal fall at Warwick Castle in 2007.
The company today issued a statement saying: “We are disappointed that the HSE has decided to prosecute but will now take time to read their findings and reasons for this decision in detail before responding any further.
“The health and safety of our visitors is always the primary objective of Chessington World of Adventures.
“We take any incident on the park very seriously, particularly one as significant and unprecedented as the one in June 2012.
“Chessington carried out our own very detailed investigation at the time of the incident and co-operated fully with the HSE investigation throughout.”Solicitors acting for the girl’s family said that they had been working with Chessington’s lawyers to secure funds for Jessica’s rehabilitation, but did not reveal whether or not they had been successful.
‘Want to see justice done’
The girl’s family today issued a statement saying that the period following her fall had been “very tough” and they were eager for the root cause of the accident to be established.
“We want to know exactly how this incident was able to happen and how Jessica could fall so far while queuing for a children’s ride.
“One minute they were enjoying a fun day out and the next Jessica is fighting for her life.
“We are pleased that the HSE has carried out an investigation and keen to find out what will happen at court so that we can begin to move on with our lives.
“We want to see justice done and know that everything is being done to stop accidents like this happening to others.”
If convicted, the Merlin would likely receive a large fine and be ordered to pay considerable costs.