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]