Smiler ride reopens nine months after crash

The Smiler

The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers has reopened to the public, nine months after an accident which seriously injured five people.

The ride opened with the rest of the park at approximately 1000, with three trains in operation.

Display screens were showing queues of up to 90 minutes for the rollercoaster, in what was the first day of Alton Towers’ 2016 season.

A number of media reporters also entered the park, and reported live from the scene.

Two females required leg amputations when train trains on the 14-inversion Gerstlauer-manufactured ride collided on 2 June last year.

A further woman suffered sever internal injuries, while two men sustained significant lower limb injuries when their ride train’s railing impacted their legs as they rode the front row of the ride.

Alton Towers suffered significantly reduced visitor numbers for the remaining months of its 2015 season.

‘Never wanted it to reopen’

Two of the seriously injured riders, Vicky Balch – who endured a leg amputation as a result of the crash – and Joe Pugh, appeared on ITV yesterday stating their opposition to the ride reopening.

Mr Pugh said: “I think it would have been a bit unrealistic if we had both said ‘I don’t think it’s ever going to reopen again’ because it always was going to, but if people choose to go on it, that’s up to them.

“Seeing it go round, it’s not something that I want to see. I would have preferred for it to be closed,” he added.

Miss Balch said: “I’ve never wanted it to reopen, that’s just the obvious reaction.

“I understand it’s a business and it’s what they have to do. I just didn’t think it’d be so soon. It’s only nine months, it’s not a very long time.

“But at the end of the day it feels like the money comes before the people on the ride.”

The Health and Safety Executive has stated that it will be prosecuting park operators Merlin Entertainments over the incident, and will appear in court next month.