The Smiler Crash: Merlin Admits Alton Towers' Guilt in Health and Safety Breaches

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Alton Towers owner Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd faces heavy fines after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety Act. The Smiler rollercoaster was involved in a horrific crash in June last year, leaving five passengers seriously injured. Two of those have had to undergo leg amputations.

"It is comforting for the families that a plea of guilty has been entered rather than the victims having to endure a drawn out trial," said lawyer Paul Paxton, representing the victims. "Today is not seen as a victory; the families are not motivated by retribution, but inevitably this guilty plea will be a milestone along the way to psychological rehabilitation. Regrettably the physical recovery will be a lifelong process.”

The roller coaster reopened last month, provoking criticism from one of the crash victims, 20-year-old Vicky Balch. “I understand it’s a business and it’s what they have to do,” she said at the time. “I just didn’t think it’d be so soon. If it was a worse day, we could’ve died, worse-case scenario. But at the end of the day it feels like the money comes before the people on the ride.” [BBC, Telegraph]