16 people have been involved in a serious incident involving Alton Tower’s newest coaster: The Smiler.
Two carriages collided shortly after 2pm today on the Gerstlauer manufactured investment, one with sixteen passengers and one empty train.
An air ambulance was called with a trauma doctor on board, and Alton Tower confirmed 4 guests sustained serious injuries:
“The Park’s first responder team were on site in minutes, and the emergency services shortly after. The emergency services, including the air ambulances, remain in attendance and are assisting Resort staff as they work to evacuate those on the ride. We can confirm that 4 guests have sustained serious injuries, and they are being treated at the scene until they can be evacuated. ”
The four guests were two females (17 and 19) and two males (18 and 27).
According to the latest reports from The Express and Star the injuries are not life-threatening.
Warning: video contains strong language and is not recommended for sensitive viewers:
The incident occurred on the Batwing element of the 14 looping coaster.
The BBC have interviewed several key witnesses. Ben Richardson said: “When the second carriage crashed people were screaming and shouting – even after it stopped. Everyone around the park ran over.”
“The people looked significantly distressed. It was almost like a car crash, very full on.”
Eyewitness Sophie Underwood added: “It wasn’t very high but it was obviously high enough for them to cause some quite serious injuries to the people that were on the rollercoaster.”
“They literally had come back off and round the back of a loop, and straight into another empty coach that had been stuck.”
“There was a big crash, and I think there were quite a few people that were angry cos they said that they had told the staff that the coach before had stopped but they hadn’t actually called through.”
Alton Towers have released a statement: “There has been an incident on The Smiler this afternoon involving two carriages coming together on a low section of the track. One of the carriages was empty and the other had 16 guests in.”
“The Resort’s fully qualified First Responders were on the scene immediately to assist with the evacuation which is ongoing.”
A spokesperson confirmed they currently were unaware of the cause, but will begin an investigation as soon as the riders are evacuated.
Nick Varney, who arrived at the Resort by helicopter, commented: “This has been a terrible incident and a devastating day for everyone here. I would like to express my sincerest regret and apology to everyone who suffered injury and distress today and to their families. ”
“The safety of our visitors is our primary concern. The Park will remain closed until we understand better the cause of this dreadful incident. I would like to thank the emergency services for their swift and effective response today – they were outstanding. A full investigation is now underway and we will continue to work closely with the emergency services and the Health and Safety Executive. ”
Ian Crabbe, Divisional Director of the Alton Towers Resort has 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.”
“Just to recap at around 2pm this afternoon there was an incident on the Smiler ride involving two carriages coming together on a low section of the track. One of the carriages was empty and the other had 16 guests in.”
“A full investigation is underway, and representatives of the Health and Safety Executive are already on site and working with us. But as I said our absolute priority at the moment is to ensure that all the guests affected are safely off the ride and are being cared for. ”
The park have confirmed they will not be open tomorrow.
Current speculation suggests that the empty car stalled, and the second car was not stopped in time. Others attribute the incident to human error – citing fail-safes that should prevent such incidents.