In an ideal world, an amusement park is a place where parents can take their children for thrilling, but safe, fun. Similarly, for adolescents and teenagers the amusement park can be a place where still developing young people test their abilities to resolve problems with fellow peers while testing their courage in a safe and supportive environment. Regardless of the park visitor or the composition of a group of visitors, all who visit an amusement park, theme park, fair, or carnival expect to be kept safe from known risks and dangers. Parks must properly train their staff members, ensure that their park is adequately staffed, and perform timely and adequate maintenance on their attractions. When parks fail to take these basics steps, the risk of a catastrophic accident that produces life-altering injuries increases greatly.
Unfortunately, a serious roller-coaster accident has been reported in the UK at the Alton Towers Park on the Smiler. The Alton towers Park is operated by the world’s second-largest amusement park operator. The Smiler roller-coaster currently holds the world record for the number of loops with its 14 inversions. Initial reports indicate that at least four individuals suffered severe injuries.
How did the Rollercoaster Collision Occur?
While the exact details and reasons behind the crash are still unclear, some information has emerged from eyewitnesses at the scene of the crash. According to reports, at approximately 2:09 p.m. UTC, two rollercoaster train cars collided on one of the lower sections of the track. Some of the 16 riders were left stranded more than 25 feet in the air while the rescue operations persisted for more than four hours.
This accident is, unfortunately, not unexpected for some. Problems with the ride began when a preview voyage for journalists stalled out and required rescue. Since the ride’s opening, the ride has been closed twice due to safety concerns. The first closing occurred in July 2013 after individuals reported that they had seen a bolt fall from the ride. In November 2013, the ride was closed again to address problems with front wheel guards that would detach and strike riders in the front of the rollercoaster car.
Even on the day of the accident, there were signs that something was not right with the ride. One park guest commented that the ride had also broken down in the morning when she had attempted to ride it. Another park guest waiting in line to board the ride told reporters from the BBC that several announcements regarding technical difficulties had been made and rider operators were sending train cars through the ride without any passengers. At some point the ride operators or their supervisors were satisfied that the rollercoaster was functioning properly and they reopened the ride. Shortly thereafter two occupied trains collided on the tracks.
What Injuries Were Reported?
16 individuals were directly involved in this rollercoaster train car collision. While initial reports indicate that many of the 16 suffered only mild to moderate cuts, scrapes, and bruises it is not uncommon for additional neck, back, whiplash and other injuries to be reported later after the effects of adrenaline wear off and the body orients itself to the damage caused. Unfortunately, others were not as lucky as those initially believed to only have mild to moderate injuries. It is reported that two female teenagers and two male teenagers suffered serious lower body injuries in the crash. They are believed to have “significant lower limb injuries” which can include broken bones, ankle injuries, knee injuries and other extremely serious injuries.
Amusement Park Accidents can Happen Anywhere
This serious accident may have occurred in the United Kingdom, but serious life-altering amusement park accidents can happen in any country. Furthermore these serious accidents can occur in parks of any size. While some may associate carnival, fair and theme park accidents only with smaller or mobile operations, the truth is that safety must be taken serious by parks of all sizes and types.
We will continue to monitor the situation from the park. If additional details regarding the exact mechanical, human, or other causes that contributed to collision become available, we will update the post with the latest information.