Alton Towers rollercoaster crash victims get first payout

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image captionDaniel Thorpe has been discharged from hospital while (l-r) Vicky Balch, Joe Pugh and Leah Washington are still being treated

Victims of the Alton Towers rollercoaster crash have received their first insurance payments.

A law firm representing eight of those injured when two carriages of the Smiler ride crashed on 2 June said interim payments had been released to help with the victims' rehabilitation.

Leah Washington, 17, who has had to have a leg amputated, is among those being represented by Stewarts Law.

The park was closed for five days in the aftermath of the crash.

Among those also being represented by the firm are Miss Washington's boyfriend Joe Pugh, 18, who shattered both knees and suffered "extensive" hand injuries, Vicky Balch, 20, from Leyland in Lancashire, and Daniel Thorpe, 27, from Buxton, Derbyshire.

Miss Balch and Mr Thorpe had been sitting in the front seats of the ride along with Miss Washington and Mr Pugh.

Miss Washington's lawyer has previously said the teenager, from Barnsley, could receive a payout worth millions of pounds after losing her leg.

'Thought I would die'

Earlier in the week Miss Balch, who has turned 20 while in hospital since the crash, told the BBC she thought she was going to die in the four hours she was trapped on the ride. Her lawyer said she was "battling" to avoid an amputation.

image copyrightWMAS
image captionThe crash left 16 people trapped 25ft (7.6m) above the ground for several hours

On Friday it emerged that Mr Thorpe and another person injured in the accident - Chanda Chauhan, 49, from Wednesbury in the West Midlands - had been discharged from hospital.

Mr Thorpe, a hotel assistant manager, was treated for a collapsed lung and fractured leg, while Ms Chauhan had internal injuries and needed stomach surgery.

Merlin Entertainment, which owns Alton Towers, has said it has contacted those injured and all 16 on board at the time of the crash will receive compensation.

In a statement in the days after the crash it said: "We have recommended each of the injured guests or their families instruct a lawyer and submit a claim for compensation which we will ensure is dealt with swiftly and sensitively."

image copyrightFabio De Paola/PA Wire
image captionTwo carriages from the Smiler have been removed for tests and the ride will remain closed for the foreseeable future

Paul Paxton, head of personal injury at Stewarts Law, said he and relatives of the injured had met the Health and Safety Inspectorate.

"The families are satisfied that no expense is being spared in the investigation into what caused the accident on the Smiler ride at Alton Towers," he said.

"The families are reassured that every angle is being thoroughly covered."

Merlin is thought to have made losses of about £500,000 a day while the theme park was closed for five days in the aftermath of the accident. It was criticised over accusations staff took 11 minutes to make the first 999 call, despite screams from passenger on the Smiler.

Alton Towers said one of its first responders - trained by West Midlands Ambulance Service - was on the scene within minutes of being called by ride staff and security staff would have called 999 as soon as an assessment had been made.

A total of 16 people were injured when the carriage they were in collided with an empty one that had come to a halt on the track ahead of them.

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